I stumbled across tomatillos at the grocery store recently and immediately scooped them up. After all I haven’t seen a fresh tomatillo in years. Or at least since I moved to Europe anyway. Maybe they are available in some European stores but not in the ones I’ve been shopping at. So when I saw these little green fruits, which can also be called Mexican tomatoes, I didn’t stop to think about how I would use them; rather I bought them before they disappeared. And then I got them home and had to decide how to use these precious fruits.
Tomatillos are covered in a light brown papery husk which masks its firm green flesh. Once you peel off the outer husk you are left with what looks like an unripe tomato in both texture and appearance. They can be eaten raw or cooked and taste a bit like unripe tomatoes with a hint of lime juice. In fact, if you can’t find tomatillos green tomatoes and lime juice make an adequate substitute.
Tomatillos are commonly found in salsas or in sauces to top enchiladas but wanting to take advantage of actually having these little fruit, I wanted to keep their presentation simple. My answer came in the form of a slow roasted sauce that I then used to dress up simply seared pork chops. Cooking the tomatillos helps them release their tangy juices when when combined with slow roasted garlic cloves, makes for a flavorful topping for any grilled meat. I left my sauce chunky, but if you want a more sophisticated presentation, puree the roasted tomatillos and garlic with a stick blender before adding them to the pan with the pork chops.
ROASTED TOMATILLO & GARLIC PORK CHOPS
1 head garlic, skins removed
3 cups tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and chopped (about 8-10 tomatillos)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 boneless pork chops seasoned with
1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Evenly distribute the chopped tomatillos, whole garlic cloves and jalapeno pepper over the prepared baking sheet.
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper over the pan.
- Tossing occasionally, roast 25-30 minutes or until the garlic is very soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Raise the temperature in the oven to 400.
- Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet, or other heavy, oven-proof pan.
- Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with the remaining salt, pepper and the garlic powder.
- When the oil shimmers add the pork chops and sear on both sides until a brown crust forms, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Add the roasted tomatillo mixture to the skillet and place the skillet in the oven.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the pork is cooked through and the sauce is bubbling.