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Tomatillo Chicken

I love summertime at the farmers’ market. Yes, there are hordes of people. And yes, they waddle slowly from side to side and have a knack for stopping dead in their tracks just so that you can slam in to them. But still, I love the farmers’ market. Even in the summer.

The usual reason for the crowds is the fruit. Candycots, pluots, peaches, nectarines, figs, berries, cherries, mmm. Crowd-pleasers for sure, but summer is also the start of tomatillo season and there are a couple of farmers here and there who’ll have a small box of these treasures at the market.

bag of tomatillos

Tomatillos are small, green fruits and are the basis for salsa verde. I grew up in Philadelphia, and I had no idea that salsa was anything other than that canned stuff they sold in the chip aisle until I was 20 years old. Sad, I know.

I came across this recipe in some old recipe book that I can no longer remember the name of. Helpful, no? Anyway, the important thing is that this is the only recipe that I thought delicious enough to commit to memory from that entire book. What I love about it is that it’s a simple, fresh-tasting dish that’s great for weeknights. Every now and then I think I might roast the tomatillos and onions first, but then the laziness sets in and then I don’t. If any of you decide to do it, let me know how it turns out!

Tomatillo Chicken

Tomatillo Chicken
– 2 generous portions -

1 lb. tomatillos
4 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
handful of cilantro leaves (optional)
olive or canola oil

rice for serving

1. Look for firm tomatillos with a bright green color. I generally pull the husk back a smidge to check the color. Prepare the tomatillos by first removing them from the husk. Here’s a photo of a tomatillo with the husk pulled back (isn’t it cute?). To remove it, just give the tomatillo a little twist and the husk will come right off:

husked tomatillo

2. Next step in the prep is to wash the tomatillos thoroughly. You’ll notice that there’s a sticky residue on the de-husked tomatillo. I generally dump the de-husked tomatillos in a bowl of water and rub the bejeezus out of them in 2 changes of water.

3. After the tomatillos are washed and clean, slice in half and set aside.

4. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil a saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and lightly brown on both sides. You’re looking for more of a light golden color than a brown color here.

5. When the chicken is browned, add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Then add the onions, jalapenos, and the tomatillos. Give it a stir to mix it all up. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomatillos will break down as they’re cooking and give up their juice to form your sauce.

6. After 20 minutes, remove the cover and raise the heat to medium. Reduce the sauce to your desired level of consistency, for me that’s usually about 2-3 minutes.

7. Check your seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Stir in the cilantro and serve over rice. Enjoy!

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