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Hi, I'm Pam Mehnert

As Outpost's general manager, Pam's work keeps her at the office, in meetings, or in front of her computer more than a simple 40 hours each week. However, her passion as a foodie has driven her to take on this challenge for the culinary experience of...
Pam Mehnert

Week 25 - Tomatillos; The Gift That Keeps On Giving

A Year of Inconvenience
For one year, I'm making everything from scratch and forgoing convenience foods. Join me on my journey! By Pam Mehnert on October 11, 2010
When you garden in your own backyard you have an everyday visual reminder of what remains. Whether that means more to harvest or putting the garden to rest for the season, it should be no surprise what’s still out there. When your friends’ garden for you, on the other hand, the last pick can come totally unexpected.

That’s my story for week 25 – unexpected tomatillos. We believed the small batch of salsa in week 18 would be our only batch, since somewhere around week 20 or 21, said tomatillo plant was “gleaned” by other friends. Never having grown tomatillos beforehand, I had not understood how prolific this plant could be. Seven more pounds were delivered in a brown REI bag this past weekend, along with a few pounds of green tomatoes.

This would have been a great amount of tomatillo salsa to can for the winter – I’m guessing we would have easily gotten 124+ ounces out of them. However I have still not embodied the courage to “can” anything up to this point, as my freezer has been my only best friend in preserving the bounty from the garden. With little time available, innovation set in and I remembered one of our favorite winter slow cooker recipes – Pork Stew In Tomatillo Sauce.

Back about six months ago before I started this food journey, I already considered this as a great recipe to share and compare both the easy (convenient) way to make it, versus adding all ingredients from scratch. The easy way is to substitute a 16 oz jar of tomatillo salsa and a 32 oz can of green chili sauce in place of the roasted tomatillos, onion, pepper, garlic and chicken stock. The recipe that follows it the “inconvenient” yet incredibly easy and flavorful way to make the entire batch from scratch. I also substitute Masa de Harina for the two corn tortillas the recipe calls for – since I would need to first make those from scratch as well. My recipe is adapted slightly from the Gourmet Slow Cooker book by Lynn Alley.

By the way, I used up my seven pounds of tomatillos by making a small batch of salsa (32 oz.) and roasted the rest - putting them through the blender and freezing them for the slow cooker evenings still ahead this winter. Hurry and get to the market yet this fall while the tomatillo plants are still giving up the goods. You won’t regret making this recipe.

Pork Stew In Tomatillo Sauce
3 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 jalapeno or pepper of your choice, halved and seeded
1 medium white onion, halved
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup Masa de Harina (powdered corn for making tortillas) OR 2 corn tortillas, chopped fine
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 ½ pounds pork stew meat, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (to your liking)
Salt to season

To make the tomatillo sauce: preheat the broiler and place the tomatillos, onion, peppers and garlic on a baking sheet. Roast under the broiler approximately 20 minutes, turning them over as the skin bursts open and browns. When they have cooled down, transfer all of the roasted veggies to a blender and add the chicken stock and Masa de Harina. Blend until smooth. If you want this a bit thicker, add more Masa, if thinner, add more chicken stock.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add your canola oil, and brown the pork for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to your slow cooker.

Pour the sauce over the pork, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours until the meat is very tender. Add the cilantro and salt to season at the end of the cooking. Enjoy served over brown rice with some crumbled Mexican or feta cheese sprinkled on top.

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