Project Wonderful

Friday, August 2, 2013

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

This past Spring we scavenged wood from around the neighborhood to expand the garden. Since growing anything in the soil in my area requires dynamite, raised beds are the only way to go.

This is the first time I've grown tomatillos and I was happy to see these big bushy plants producing fruit. Tomatillos (also known by some as husk tomatos) are a part of the nightshade family (just like tomatoes)  and originated in Mexico as a common ingredient in Mexican dishes. Some of the plants that I started in March were ready the other day, so I harvested a few and decided to make a salsa to top some venison backstrap I was going to prepare for dinner. 

In the jungle, the mighty jungle... Tomatillo and eggplant in the foreground, tomatoes in the middle and the vine-covered structure in the background is my gourd/ bean house. (I had an old gazebo that I wasn't using so we turned it into a growing trellis) 

Extreme measures were needed to protect my tomato and tomatillo crop from sensless bird and critter attacks. Cages, fencing, netting, and a bodyguard were all employed.

He's a little worse for wear, but Little Lurko here is always watching and protecting my crop.
Not much of a harvest, but it'll do. The tomatillos have an outer husk on them that helps to show when they are ready to be harvested. The husk grows first, then the fruit grows inside it. When the husk splits open, it's time to pick them. 
I was going to char these in the BBQ outdoors, but I chose instead to do these under the broiler in the oven. 
Just wash them, toss a few cloves of garlic and burn em till they're black and messy.  
Naturally, with charcoal you will impart an even better smoky flavor.
Believe it or not, but this is almost not cooked enough.

Here's the result of the charring. Kinda sad looking, but these little guys are flavor ninjas. Just when you think they are ruined, you taste one and it turns out to be amazing. And the flavor it imparts to salsa really makes it stand out.

Into the food processor it goes, along with some tomatoes also harvested today.

I also added a handful of basil. Traditionally cilantro would be used, but my basil plants are exploding right now, so I figured I'd use them instead.

Process this all up along with some onions, olive oil, salt and pepper and some additional garlic. (I only had four fresh cloves to roast up, so I had to break out the "emergency garlic" - a jar of pre-minced stuff from the store.

The mixture was PERFECT. In fact, it was a battle for this salsa to make it to the plate. 

And voila - breaded venison backstrap with charred tomatillo salsa. I threw a splash of balsamic on the plate just because I like the flavor. It certainly didnt hurt things!


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