Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Tomorrow's Michigan Cottage Cook Post will be Connie’s Flame Roasted Salsa Verde which was a big hit at my bridal shower and this weekend when I made it for Tom’s visiting sister and family plus his cousins. It is a delicious salsa plus it is quick and easy. Before I post the Salsa, I want to do a post about Tomatillos and Poblano Chiles which are in the salsa.

Back in the 1970s when I wanted to serve a dish with pea pods or tomatillos, I had to plan ahead. First I had to send off for seed catalogs, find the ones which handled "exotic" vegetables, order the seeds, grow the plants and finally harvest the vegetables. Then I could cook.

It is such a luxury to be able to buy tomatillos either fresh or canned in the supermarket. Before tomatillos and my favorite oriental ingredients were was so widely available, I use to take an extra suitcase whenever I visited a city large enough to have an ethnic market so I could stock up and bring things like tomatillos or hoisin sauce back home. Sure could not do that now with what you have to pay to take luggage aboard a plane.

Tomatillos are the basis for green chile sauces, chili verde, salsa verdes and numerous other wonderful dishes.  They are a great addition to soups or stews in the winter.  I have many, many recipes using them that I will share with you.

In the summer, some of my favorite vendors at the Farmer’s Markets sell fresh tomatillos. Even though I can now buy them at the supermarket, I like to buy fresh ones at the market and freeze them for the winter. When buying tomatillos, pick out lime green tomatillos rather than yellow. The yellow ones are old. Remove papery husk and rinse off the tomatillos with cold water. They have a sticky feel under the papery husks.

To cook the tomatillos, halve or quarter them. Place in a small saucepan. Add 2-tablespoons or so of water. Cook over low heat until soft. The cooked tomatillos can be pureed in a blender or chopped to the consistency desired.

I put them in freezer bags and press them flat for easy storage so I can break off what I need without defrosting the whole bag.


Remove papery husk.

Rinse tomatillos well as they have a sticky coating on them.

Halve or quarter tomatillas and put into a pan.

Add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan.

Cover pan.  Bring the tomatillos to a boil and then reduce heat to low. 

Cook until the tomatillos are soft.

Mash the tomatillos or put in a blender.

Use immediately or put in freezer bags for use later.

I press the bags flat so I can break off pieces without defrosting the whole bag.

The Poblano chile is the fresh form of the dried ancho chile. It is dark green, fat at the stem end and narrower at the bottom usually 3 to 4 inches long. It has thick flesh and is the chile used in Chile Rellenos. I really like the flavor of the Poblano chile. It is not very hot but very flavorful. I buy them from Tom, The Pepper Man in Holland or from a lovely family at the Muskegon Market.

Tom, the Pepper Man, at the Holland Farmer's Market with his sister.

Poblano Chiles.

Lovely family at the Muskegon Farmer's Market who sells us chiles.

Poblano Chiles.

Recently a cook’s magazine said they tested frozen chiles or peppers and found them tasteless. In Santa Fe the preferred way to buy Green Chiles, when they are not in season, is frozen. I freeze chiles every year and use them in soups, chili and other dishes.  I have not noticed a flavor change.

Poblano chiles need to be charred and peeled to enhance their flavor and to remove the unappetizing peel. This is the easiest and quickest, (my favorite words again), way I have found to char and peel all chiles.

Turn on the broiler. In my oven I put the shelf on the second setting down from the top so the chile tops do not get burned. Cover the broiler pan with aluminum foil. Pull or cut out the stem and lay the chiles on the foil. Broil 5 to 8 minutes on one side. Check at 5 minutes to see if they are charred. If not, broil another 3 minutes. After one side is charred, turn the chiles over with tongs and put back in the broiler for 5 minutes. When both sides are charred, put the chiles in a brown paper bag and close the bag. This allows the chiles to steam and make the skin easy to remove. When the chiles have cooled, remove the skin. Do not put the chiles under running water to remove the skin as this removes flavor. DO NOT PUT YOUR HANDS NEAR YOUR EYES WHEN HANDLING CHILES.

I forgot to remove the stem before I charred the first side.  The stems can act like a match when you put the chiles in a paper bag.

Broil chiles on aluminum foil until one side is charred, 5 to 8 minutes.

Turn chiles over with tongs.

When both sides are charred remove from broiler.

Put charred chiles in a brown paper bag to steam the skins off.

When chiles are cool, peel off the skins.

Peeled Poblano chiles.

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