Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken with Tomatillos and Braised Fruit

I haven't posted in a week. Between my temporary job ending (yay!) and my husband's laptop batter/charger fritzing out (boo!), I have been busy cleaning all the little things I neglected while working and sharing my computer so he can do Important Law Studying.

I did make something amazing last week though.

We eat a lot of Mexican food, and usually it's prepared more or less the same way- rice, beans, some sauteed veggies, and chicken spiced with cumin and peppers and topped with cheese. The base of rice and beans is cheap, filling, and healthy, and by shredding the chicken we stretch it out longer for days longer than eating a breast each for dinner. As much as I like it, I was getting tired of it. Epicurious.com is my go-to website for finding new recipes when I'm not sure exactly what I want to fix, but I now I want something different (and Cooks Illustrated is my go-to when I know exactly what I want). My parents gave me and my husband early Christmas presents of iPhones and I've been using the epicurious app a LOT in the kitchen- I don't have to print out any recipes I find and I can double check the ingredient list in the grocery store.

I found a Chicken with Tomatillo Sauce and Braised Fruit recipe that is AMAZING and unlike any other Mexican dish I have prepared at home.  By using a few substitutions, I had nearly everything on hand.  The only "special ingredients" I had to buy were pears and tomatillos. I substituted dried cranberries for dried cherries, ground cinnamon for the stick, ignored the epazote leaves and green onions per the comments, and completely forgot to buy tomatillos.  I was really disappointed in myself for forgetting the tomatillos, but I discovered that in some recipes, green tomatoes and a bit of lime can be substituted for tomatillos.  Since my tomato plants decided to produce some late harvest tomatoes that would never have time to ripen before the first frost, I went out and gathered up all the remaining tomatoes I could find.  From what I understand, green tomatoes have a similar tartness to the tomatillos (but not a crispness) and don't cook down like ripe tomatoes. This recipe definitely tastes like fall/winter goodness because of the pear, but it was published in a June 2007 magazine - possibly because that's when tomatillos are in season.

I'm salivating just seeing this picture
It took me about two hours to prepare this recipe (which included the using my awesome cleaver to quarter the chicken).  I ended up throwing some chicken stock in the pot at some point because I didn't feel like the chicken was cooking fast enough and it seemed to need more liquid (I think there's a difference in water content of tomatillos and green tomatoes).  I think I added a bit less than a cup, use your judgement if you need it. We made rice and black beans to accompany this (the rice soaks up the extra liquid).  

  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced chipotle chiles (from canned chipotles in adobo)* (or a cayenne pepper)
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed, quartered (or green tomatoes cut into bite size pieces)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or a generous helping of ground cinnamon)
  • 1 pound pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces dried apricots (about 2/3 cup)
  • 3 ounces dried cherries or cranberries (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • Warm tortillas
Brine the chicken for at least twenty minutes.

Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate.  At this point, I took off the majority of the skin to reduce the fat content in the recipe. 

Add onion to pot; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and chipotles; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatillos and cinnamon stick; return chicken pieces to pot. 

Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.  I shredded the chicken after it was cooked.

Add pears, apricots, and cherries and simmer until pears are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Serve with warm tortillas, rice, and beans.

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