Raise your hand if you’ve ever cooked with a tomatillo. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I was devirginized last night… and man was it good.
After passing up the tomatillo for so long (read: every time I visited the produce aisle, which is sometimes two or three times a week), the intrigue of its papery exterior finally got the best of me.
I’ve been quite bored with cooking lately and can only describe it as a distaste for any ingredient at the moment. I used to look forward to my time in the kitchen, until I started relying too much on my bread and butters. Every ingredient had become familiar and food seemed so monotonous. My pantry staples are so overused, they’re borderline unpalatable. So I’ve avoided the kitchen and my family has resorted to Thai or Chinese takeout or pizza as often as I can sneak it on the menu, which doesn’t bode well for my waistline. Feeling a bit adventurous yesterday, I was optimistic the tomatillo, a staple in authentic Mexican cooking, was just what I needed to pull me out of my food rut. After all, a girl has got to eat.
The most important thing I learned from my first tomatillo experience is that I like them! I’m already brainstorming ways to incorporate them into meals more regularly. Preparing them was a bit of a joy. The paper surrounding them, or their husks, was fun to peel away. And each tear of the paper revealed the shiny, bright green skin of a perfectly smooth piece of fruit that resembled a very firm, under-ripe cherry tomato. Although peeling the husk exposed a sticky substance, it was easily rinsed away. Inside the fruit were lots of little seeds, much like a tomato, minus all the slimy stuff. I took a bite of the raw tomatillo and it was crisp, (think apple meets grape meets watermelon) and very tangy, but it was not sour. The flavor was very unique and working with them was quite neat. I was almost sad when I threw them in the blender and hit puree. They were so very lovely. Despite a bunch of other fresh ingredients, the tomatillo was the star of a sauce in which I stewed beautiful, lean pieces of pork tenderloin, which came out so flavorful and tender, you’d never have guessed the meal was low-fat.
It’s just a shame I was out of tequila or I would have been able to take a sip, close my eyes and imagine I was across the border while dinner was simmering on the stove.
Pork, Black Bean and Tomatillo Stew
1 cup dry black beans , picked over and rinsed
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
2 pounds pork tenderloin , cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large white onion , coarsely chopped
1/2 pound medium tomatillos , husked, rinsed and quartered
4 green onions , chopped
2 canned chipotle chiles , en adobo, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup loosely packed snipped cilantro sprigs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican variety preferred), crumbled
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups canned fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
Serve in bowls over rice with sour cream and pico de gallo if desired.