Today is Father’s Day, and I’m thinking that I’m more like my dad than I’m usually willing to admit.
Although it’s early, I’ve already ready been awake for hours, just like he would have been. Already, breakfast is eaten, coffee consumed, and I’ve been almost as active as Daddy would have been if he was living, even though most of the neighbors are still sleeping.
At least I’m not noisy; my dad could be inconsiderate that way. It was nothing for my father to wake up on a Saturday morning and mow the grass at first light. He figured that if the neighbors were asleep, well, they should be awake, just like him, and it was their own damn problem if he wanted to mow at Zero Dark Thirty.
No, I’m usually quiet in the morning, but another way I’m like my father is that I can’t pass up a load of beautiful vegetables without buying some, and I did just that at my supermarket yesterday, even though I had no particular plan for the fresh tomatillos, poblano and serrano peppers that I placed in my cart.
When we were kids, my sister and I would roll our eyes every time my father pulled off the road at another vegetable stand, which was often. He couldn’t pass them up, and before long he’d strike up a conversation with the farmer, the farmer’s wife, the farmer’s kids, and would be telling his life story to anyone within earshot, and probably figuring out that he knew their third cousins.
Well, I’ve told my life story on the pages of this blog, haven’t I, so I guess I’m not that different from my dad after all, except my audience of disinterested listeners is even wider than his, and no doubt my kids have been rolling their eyes aplenty.
Also like my dad, I had no idea what I’d do with all the vegetables I was loading into my cart, but this morning the mystery is solved, as I decided to make salsa. I’m still not sure how I’ll eat the finished product. I’m off the carbs, so chips are out, but sooner or later I’ll find a use for this heavenly smelling concoction, and it’ll be ready and waiting in the freezer when the thought occurs. Maybe I’ll spoon it onto eggs, or maybe I’ll temporarily relax the carb restriction and use it as a sauce for chicken enchiladas, but whatever I do, I’ll think of my dad, who was always spooning something onto something else.
Like most of my recipes, this isn’t anything formal, just good eatin’. You can change the proportions, add different ingredients, whatever, and it’s still going to be delicious, as long as you follow the basic idea.
Now before I get started, let me explain about tomatillos, because I’m finding that an awful lot of people — like the little New Jersey gal at the checkout — don’t know what they are, and that’s a shame. Tomatillos are like little green tomatoes, but they’re more sour than tomatoes, and also unlike tomatoes, they come in a funky green leaf wrapper. Just peel off the wrapper to reveal the slightly sticky green globe of goodness inside.
I know a couple ways to prepare tomatillos. You can boil them until the bright green turns to sort of a khaki color, then drain and throw them into the blender, pureeing until smooth. Easy-peasy! But boiling them just didn’t seem manly on Father’s Day, so today I decided to fire-roast my tomatillos, which made sense because I needed to fire up the grill anyway in order to roast the poblanos.
About the poblanos, a lot of people up here don’t know about them either, which is sad. I found that out yesterday after I noticed that the same checkout girl curiously got the serranos right, but then charged me for jalapeños instead of poblanos. How you mix up those two is beyond me, but she did, and I didn’t notice until I got home. Oh well.
Poblanos are a thick-walled pepper, similar in size to a bell pepper, but darker green and more pointy. They need to be roasted, either in the oven or on the grill. After the skin has been blackened all over, seal them in a plastic bag and “sweat” them for an hour or so, which then enables you to peel off the skin. After that, remove the seeds and veins by cutting a small slit in the flesh. You have to be careful if you plan to leave them whole for chile rellenos, but I’ll be adding mine to the salsa today, so no such precaution is necessary.
As for the serrano chiles, they’re skinnier than jalapeños, and a bit hotter. I fire-roasted them, too, but there’s no need to peel them. Just cut off the stems and pop them into the blender. They’ll add a bit more fire to the fire-roasted salsa, if you know what I mean.
Roamin’ Gnomials Fire-Roasted Tomatillo and Poblano Salsa
12-16 fresh tomatillos
4-6 fresh poblano peppers
2-3 fresh serrano chiles
Handful of salt
Roast the tomatillos and peppers. Turn with tongs until everything is well blackened on the outside. At this point, the tomatillos are ready, but you still need to sweat the poblanos before peeling the skins under a trickle of water from the faucet. Remove the stems, seeds and veins from the poblanos, then throw everything into the blender and pulse. Give it a taste and add more salt if necessary.
Like I said, this is supposed to be a fun recipe, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Try adding fresh cilantro, or some garlic if you want. Change the proportions, mix and match, whatever.
I know my own dad would have loved this, and I think you will, too. Happy Father’s Day!