Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Engine 9's chile verde

Like most of you, I have a stack of go-to recipes (figuratively if not literally) that I can whip out with little to no grocery shopping and even less effort. I love these recipes, and not only because I can make them with my eyes closed. They're good. They became favorites for a reason, after all. For me, the short list includes pasta alla amatriciana, soy sauce chicken, and minestrone. I've cooked and devoured these dishes more times than I can count.

The problem with these recipes is that I get a little tired of them. Sometimes I start to feel acutely like I need to make something brand new. When this happens, I enjoy nothing more than perusing cookbooks, food magazines, and blogs I like in search of something inspiring.

Something like a tomatillo.

While flipping through this groovy cookbook called Firehouse Food, a compilation of recipes from San Francisco's firefighters, I stumbled upon a recipe for chile verde. It had three desirable qualities going for it: 1) it required just 5 ingredients 2) it seemed to involve very little work and 3) it looked, as one of my fellow bloggers might say, wicked good.

First I had to get a couple of artsy shots of the tomatillos though. Incidentally, this was my first time using tomatillos. I have no idea what took me so long to discover these delightful little bundles, like hard green apples wrapped in crinkly cabbage leaves.

You start by toasting the tomatillos in a dry pan, then pureeing them. Brown the pork, add the tomatillo puree, along with some garlic, jalapenos, and salt, and you're all set. While the pork bubbled gently, I set about making Mexican rice, also from the cookbook. Another revelation! Simple, flavorful, and delicious.

All the dinner required was patience, which I mustered up with the distractions of the husband, dog, and a couple of frosty Sierra Nevadas. A few hours later we ate chile verde and Mexican rice, with warm corn tortillas to soak up the sauce.

So, thanks to Bob Lopez of Engine 9, I now have a fantastic new recipe to break up the routine--and definitely one good enough for company.


  1. I have seen these in the grocery store and I have always wondered how to prepare them. This looks really good PLUS my husband loves Mexican, so it looks like a real winner. Thanks for sharing!

  2. can you post the mexican rice recipe? would love to try it.

  3. Awesome shots of the tomatillos - I've never heard of them or tried them before. The end result looks very yum!

  4. jglee: check out the cookbook! This recipe is one of several I've tried that is delicious.

    DS: I will post the recipe or email it to you shortly :)

    shaz: Can you get them in your corner of the world? If so, give them a try. They're related to tomatoes I guess but seem like their own thing.

  5. I love chile verde! I always order it if I see it on the menu. And the artsy fartsy shot is very nice.

  6. Oh wow, kudos to Engine 9 and you for making a lovely, delicious post. Tomatillos are funny little guys, aren't they? Tomato-like, but kind of pear flavored, and then the weird stickiness on the surface. I love the pan-toasting! Will try that the next time I use them for enchiladas verde, which is another great use for the lil' green gems.

  7. Recipes by fire fighters! My son would love this book! He would probably actually say, "Mommy this book is WICKED cool".

    PS No one on the left coast ever says wicked, and they can't pronounce chowdah, and no one knows what a cah-hawg is!

  8. foodhoe: thanks for the compliment! I continue to struggle with my photography but am so pleased when I get a good shot...

    wasabiprime: Ye, the stickiness surprised me! They're so cool...I can't wait to use them again.

    Alis: you should pick up the book--a good "local" purchase. You & Seth would enjoy experimenting from it.

  9. you know, i never realized just how lovely tomatillos are to behold--that shot with the light in the background shows just how transparent and thin the outer shell is. chile verde is a delicious way to get away from the same old-same old. :)

  10. Yum! My mom recommends that you look for tomatillos that are slightly purply. That's what she uses for her tomatillo recipes.

  11. I love the subtle tartness of tomatillos. I once made a day-after Thanksgiving chile using turkey and tomatillos. It was a Bruce Aidells recipe, and it was fab.

  12. Grace: I too was impressed with how lovely they are. I will definitely be using them again.

    Cee: I had no idea how to select them--now I know! Thanks.

    Food Gal: I'll have to look for that recipe. Can't go wrong with Bruce Aidells.

  13. I got this recipe from a firefighter years ago and made it several times it was always delicious.

    I actually was going to make it tonight but i cant find my recipe. I searched the internet but cant find it.

    Could you please post or email the recipe.


  14. I also love this recipe which I found in the following cookbook:
    (a great series of cook books by the way )

    Best American Recipes 2004 - 2005
    Fran McCullough & Molly Stevens