Dommy’s Dinners: Verdolagas Pt.1 – Chicken in Tomatillo Sauce
One of my favorite things to do on the Weekends is hit the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Not THE weekend Santa Monica Farmer’s market… but a smaller one. There isn’t as ‘sexy’ as produce there, but it’s got the basics, a great mushroom man and recently a vendor dared to bring in Verdolagas!!!
I wouldn’t have even noticed this, if the lady next to me curtly asked the vendor…
“What is that?!” I looked down and it was Verdolagas!! I tried to explain… but she wasn’t having anything to do with it after she picked it up and uttered “My gosh… it looks like iceplant!” And so she wandered off and I bought two bunches…
And so with my green leafies in hand, I went on my marry way and decided to do a simple Chile Verde Style dish… I used Rick Bayless’ Pork Braised in Tomatillo Sauce as a base of my recipe. So I took about 1lb of Tomatillos, One Onion cut in slices, One Jalapeno, and four cloves of garlic and roasted them under the broiler for a few minutes (Until they become nice and soft and charry, about 5 minutes each side)
Meanwhile, I chopped up my Verdolagas… and giggled when I realized they do kinda look like Ice Plant…
Anyway, once the salsa ingredients were done, I pureed them and then add about 1 cup of chicken broth just to loosen it up…
I then took three LARGE chicken breasts on the bone and cut them in half. After browning them my dutch oven with a wee bit of olive oil (just to get a good sear). I poured the tomatillo sauce over the breast and then place them in a 350 oven… for about 20 minutes and I added the Verdulagas, put it all back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
To serve the dish, I decided to fish out the chicken breasts and shredded them with two forks so that the flavor could get deeper into the Chicken as it cooled down a bit…
Finally, I served the dish over brown rice. Sadly because it wasn’t real chile verde… the sauce was a little watery… but it did have a LOT of flavor thanks to the salsa and of course the verdolagas…
When P. came to the table… he asked “What is that stuff?!” I told him and before he could scoff at eating plant too, he did give it a try and loved it! Hurrah!! Another one converted…
Dommy: when I read this in your post above that mentions Bayless' "Pork Braised in Tomatillo Sauce ....about 1lb of Tomatillos, One Onion cut in slices, One Jalapeno, and four cloves of garlic and roasted them under the broiler for a few minutes (Until they become nice and soft and charry, about 5 minutes each side)" - I was totally hooked.
Then I looked at the link CL posted from Saveur... couldn't wait to make a stop at Marina Super (Asian grocery). I got some really meaty pork neck bones (very little bone but nice bits of gristle), then a stop at Mi Rancho Supermarket for tomatillos, poblano chilies and a few nice fat jalapenos plus a big bunch of cilantro.
I put the poblanos, husked tomatillos, fat slices of onion, whole garlic cloves and the jalapenos on a sheet pan and into the broiler to get some nice char. I wanted to get this cooked quickly so I took a look at Victoria Wise's "The Pressure Cooker Gourmet" pg 88 "Chile Verde" and kind of used that as a guide. Browned the meat in the pot, put the tomatillos, onion slices, garlic, the peeled, seeded poblanos and the jalapeno into the food processor for a quick chop. Added the contents of the processor to the pot along with 1-1/2 cups of beef broth (used a packet of "Savory Choice Liquid Beef Broth Concentrate" and 1/2 cup water per the Wise recipe. Stirred it up, put on the lid, brought up the pressure and cooked for 35 min. Let it sit for 15 min then brought the pressure down quickly under cold water.
Took off the lid and tested the meat - tender. While it was cooking I washed the verdolagas and removed only the really heavy stems and chopped it into about 1" pieces. I put that in the pot along with about a cup of chopped cilantro. I let it all simmer for about 10 minutes. It was a little too liquid so I thickened it with some masa harina. Seasoned with S&P and dished it up. To say that this was delicious would be a serious understatement. DH loved it, I loved it.
Tonight we had the leftovers - I wanted to stretch it a bit. I had a nice fresh kabocha squash so I cut it into 1" chunks and roasted them in a 425 oven for about a half hour or so. Put the cooked chunks of squash into the leftover soup/stew and we were in heaven again...
Now my problem will be finding verdolagas again... I've checked 4 Mexican markets in my area and they don't have it. Neither did 2 local Farmers Markets... I may have to go wandering in an orchard again!!!
All right!!! :D That does sound DELISH!! :D We made Verdolagas again for a dinner party and mixed them with Asparagus... it made for quite the interesting flavor contrast! :D
But I'm sorry you aren't finding them! :P Originally they are from India, so you might wanna check indian markets... they are also used quite a bit in greek cooking..
D: Thanks for the hints - I didn't know that they are used in Greek and Indian cooking - I'll check it out... It's really a shame that verdolagas aren't more of a main-stream item - they are so nutritious and they really added a lot to that stew. I want to make it again...
I know this is off this particular topic, but can you tell me something about the different types of tomatillos I see in the markets? Some are the big ones, the same size as a regular tomato - then there are these little ones called "milperos" or something like that - they are about the size of a large gumball. Do the little ones have more flavor or ???
Thanks for your report and photos, Dommy! The dish looks very good and healthy too. Is verdolagas the same as purslane? I've had purslane in a salad before and it was delicious.
Well, I answered my own question thanks to google, and it looks like they are indeed the same thing. Here's a May 2007 recipe from Saveur that came up in my search--
Verdolagas con Carne de Puerco (Purslane and Pork Stew):
Ah, verdolagas! If you want to hear the amazingly wonderful song (sung by Colombian women) do a search for "go ear la verdolaga" or just "verdolaga" and look for the entry mentioning "go ear". The group P-18 also sings it and it's also dynamite.
Verdolaga apparently has another, slang, meaning which I can't discuss here.
Sounds and looks wonderful.