Some of mom’s gorgeous flowers, nicely juxtaposed with dad’s garden boots:
Some of the more attractive bug locals:
I could do at least a thousand blogs on each variety of produce in this garden, but for today I was pretty obsessed with a humble little “vegefruit” called Pineapple Tomatillos, more commonly known as ground cherries. These are heirloom plants that used to be more widely grown for jams and eating out of hand, but they are tough to find now unless you grow them or you live in the Midwest and like to forage. They reseed readily and grow low to the ground, and have the little paper husk that you will recognize from their green salsa-variety cousins. Their relative rarity now is probably due to their perishable qualities and the fact that they are not ripe until they fall to the ground, and they ripen in stages. Here is the plant:
You can see the yellowed tomatillos littering the ground–those are the relatively unlovely but ripe fruits:
I removed the husks (they slip off quite easily) and rinsed them off and ended up with about four cups:
They look like little jewels, really. I love to eat them out of hand–they have a distinct pineapple flavor with an afterthought of tomato, and they are mildly sweet. I wanted to do something a little more unusual than jam, so I decided to go for a savory-sweet chicken dish. It turned out quite well and I have the full recipe below, but here are the visual steps. I dusted some bone-in skinless chicken thighs with finely ground white cornmeal and browned them in olive oil:
After they were nice and golden I dumped in some finely chopped shallots, red peppers, the ground cherries, some pineapple juice, and some balsamic vinegar and garlic:
Cook according to the directions below, and you will end up with this:
It was quite delicious. The rest of those ground cherries will probably become jam, but this was soooo good. Here is the full recipe:
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin and excess fat removed
- 1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
- 1/4 cup diced red pepper
- 1 1/2 cups ground cherries/pineapple tomatillos
- 2/3 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Dredge the chicken in the cornmeal, salt, and pepper to coat lightly. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large, deep saucepan and brown the chicken until golden on both sides.
- Add the remaining olive oil, shallot, red pepper, ground cherries, pineapple juice, vinegar, and garlic and increase heat to high until the ingredients begin to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the ground cherries have broken down.
- Uncover and increase the heat to high and cook for another ten minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and the chicken is cooked through. Adjust the salt and sprinkle with flat leaf parsley, if desired.
I also made a batch of Dry-fried Fresh Okra Curry with Tomato Mint Relish, which I will include in a future blog. I am truly in produce paradise.