Tomatillos had me the first time I laid eyes on them. Who can resist their appearance, with the papery covering on each one, like a gift ready to be unwrapped? And once unwrapped, they add a delicious tangy taste to sauces
and stews. As soon as I saw a pile of them at the grocery store, I decided to make this stew. The original recipe calls for pork loin, but I decided to use boneless chicken thighs that I had on hand instead. The resulting stew was delicious and comforting, improving as it aged, so it's the type of dish that can be made a day ahead and will taste better. It's low in fat, filling, and full of healthy veggies. It also has cumin in it, one of my favorite spices. But, we'll call it an herb this week, to qualify for Weekend Herb Blogging, created by the fabulous Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen, but hosted this week by the very talented Pille at Nami Nami. She will have a round-up of herby recipes posted on Monday, so don't forget to check out her site.
Cumin has such a distinctive taste, and I can't imagine certain types of food, such as Mexican, or Middle-Eastern, made without it. I keep cumin seed and ground cumin on hand at all times. I can't resist the sweet smokey taste it lends to food and usually get heavy handed with it. It certainly tasted good in this stew. There is a mystery to this recipe. The pictures of it in Food & Wine, show a stew with a pale green sauce. My stew used the requisite amount of tomatillos, but turned out bright red. Food & Wine's picture? Nary a trace of red. I'm wondering if the magazine left out the large amount of red tomatoes, for the appearance of the dish? How can you add that many tomatoes and not have a red sauce? I'm just saying.
And any dish that gives you an opportunity to eat tortilla chips is just fine by me.
Chicken And Tomatillo Stew
(Food & Wine)
Note: The original recipe uses pork loin, cut into pieces. You can replace the chicken with the pork, if you wish.)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large celery ribs, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons mild chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin (I used a bit more)
Pinch of dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 cup 1/2-inch-diced carrots
Two 6-ounce russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound tomatillos—husked, rinsed and cut into 1-inch dice
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Corn tortilla chips, for serving
In a medium casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add the celery and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the diced chile, garlic, chile powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos, cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and shred with two forks. Meanwhile, simmer the stew over moderate heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir the shredded chicken into the stew and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a few tortilla chips.