Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tomatillo sauce. 2 million eyes on the screen. Aural On-line Floricanto.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Tomatillo Sauce Versatile, Naturally Gluten-free
Michael Sedano

Sprawling among zucchini plants, tomatillo plants create shade mulch
Tomatillos naturalize after their first year in a garden. A plant sprawls, fruit drops, rots and deposits seeds. Over the course of the season the seeds, and whole tomatillos, get mixed into the loam.

Throughout late Spring, Summer into early Fall, volunteer tomatillo seedlings need to be weeded out, else they take over the garden.

This clump grows from a fruit dropped at center right in the foto above.
An early Spring prize is a small mound of seedlings marking the spot where a tomatillo buried whole has sprung back to life. Here is this season's crop of fresh tomatillos.

The tough seedlings take well to being dug up and transplanted to macetas. When the garden’s established, I plant tomatillos where they’ll sprawl to provide shade mulch and picking excursions. Water usage in drought means reduce water evaporation after you've reduced water usage. My vegetable garden borders a swimming pool, so every drop saved is another day less in purgatory.

There must be an horticultural rule, the bigger the fruit the smaller the flavor. I’ve eaten tomatillos grown larger than a small beefsteak tomato and won’t go out of my way to buy that variety.

My garden grows a tomatillo with fruit the size of a fat radish. It tastes OK, but the most intense flavor comes from a tiny olive-sized tomatillo with a lemony bite that enhances companion flavors. I saw that tomatillo on a Steinbeck walk through Salinas once, but the fruit wasn’t ripe enough for seed. Too bad Steinbeck wasn't born in the Fall.

Tomatillo sauce brings versatility to the kitchen from elegant entrée to finger-licking good snacks. Use this as enchilada sauce. Melt it with grated cheese or just warm it and serve as a dip. Stir ready-made carnitas into a sartén of salsa de tomatillo. Add lots of jalapeños o hueros o serranos o thai and use as taco or nacho sauce.

Modern appliances make speedy work of making tomatillo sauce. Broiler, blender, table.

Once in a cook’s lifetime you deserve to lay a chile and a tomato on an open burner, use your fingers to roll them around while the skin blackens and the juices begin to boil out. Smoke wafts up from the burner. When the chiles are really chilosos the smoke streaming into your nose burns making you cough and sneeze. Juggle the steaming handful as you drop them into the molcahete and run cold water across your palms with a sigh of relief then splash water on your face to stem the glow.

For gente on the go, comida corrida meets lots of needs. Broil. Whiz. Done. This salsa de tomatillo is almost fast.

Cleaning the ingredients takes only a bit of time, yet a busy person might consider making several quarts of sauce on a weekend and freeze in meal-size quantities, or eat it every day, on eggs for breakfast, in a taco for lunch, chile verde for dinner.

Ten minutes under a high flame broiler, or on a slightly oiled frying pan, blackens spots on the onion, tomato, garlic, chile, tomatillo. Add fresh cilantro sprigs to the blender. If the veggies get a little too done, most of the black stuff peels off and the rest adds flavor and character to your dish.

When you whiz up hot liquids keep the blender top ajar and cover the top with a dishrag before turning on the motor. The vegetables produce a good volume of nectar that you can drain off and use as a soup base, or incorporate it into your salsa.

When you use a lot more tomatillo than chiles, you make tomatillo sauce. If you use a few tomatillos and a large number of chiles, you make chile. "Chilly" in English.

Roast some extra chile pods and after the first few seconds in the blender, taste and add chiles to enhance the heat. Brighten the taste with a squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt.

Salsa de tomatillo is delicious as a simple dip. Warm it, and do your guests a flavor favor. Break chicharrones into small pieces, warm them to bring out amazing flavor, then serve and sit back and hear your guests exclaim about the most delicious chicharrones they've ever eaten. And oh yeah, that green sauce is really good.

Click here for a step-by-step narrative accompanying these fotos.

Two Million Eyes < Ten Years

Scroll to the bottom of La Bloga, in the
left corner there's the visitor counter.

Back when I was working for a living one of my standard lessons as a corporate trainer was "have a plan, work the plan, if you don't have a plan, any which way will get you there."

That was a bad thing, the any which way part. Winning by accident, instead of winning on purpose.

All this to bring up the magic of one million people bringing their interest and time to see what La Bloga has today. That's a victory for Chicana Chicano, Latina Latino Literature, y más.

We didn't start out with a goal to do other than write a blog centered around chicana and chicano literature, to reignite ongoing accord with similar minded gente that started at CHICLE. Now, half a year short of our ten year anniversary that magic number rolls around.

Rudy, Manuel, and I had not met in person but only via the auspices of María Teresa Márquez' much-missed CHICLE listserv. When UNM closed down CHICLE in 1999 it shut off one of the nation's only public venues for talking about chicana chicano literature. Rudy and Manuel kicked the idea around the Denver block, they emailed me in LA, and we launched. After a few issues, Daniel Olivas joined and La Bloga's team of writers has grown steadily since.

It's been a pleasure these million times, gente. Thank you for reading La Bloga.

Aural On-line Floricanto: Pablo Neruda's "La tierra se llama Juan" read by Elda Martinez

Students recorded this reading of Neruda in a media production class I taught at CSULA in the late 1970s. The kids brought 500 Años del Pueblo Chicano 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures
from their C/S 101 class and I gave them a handful of literature anthologies. These are the central resources of the production Chicano Messages of Liberation that I am digitizing from audiotape and 35mm slides.

When the team wanted the script to include Neruda I challenged them to defend it as Chicano Literature. "It's in the book!" they proved.

The kids were happy to edit out the overtly soviet communism at the end, making it a better reading and a better poem. Here's the full text.

Click here if media fails to play: http://readraza.com/poem_juan.mp3

1 comment:

Amelia ML Montes said...

Orale, Michael! Going to try your wonderful recipe this weekend. Great post!