In my previous post, I showed a fresh bunch of cilantro, that I had just harvested from my garden, pointing out that, every year, although I would like to prepare green sauce with fresh cilantro and tomatillos from the garden, it becomes a torture to see that by the time my tomatillos are ready for harvest at the end of the summer, all the cilantro has bolted and gone to seed, obliterated by the hot weather. Last fall, I placed a couple of bags of peeled and washed tomatillos in the freezer, so this year, I could prepare a batch or two of green sauce with both, garden tomatillos and garden cilantro. As soon as I got the cilantro in the house, I ran to the fridge to rescue a bag of tomatillos from the freezer:
I decided to prepare chicken in green sauce, one of my husband’s favourite dishes, but to fully assimilate the thrill of finally having both crops together (I know, what a backyard gardener nerd), I upgraded the recipe from plain cooked shredded chicken, to stuffed chicken breasts.
Stuffed Chicken Breasts in Green Sauce –
Pechugas de pollo rellenas en salsa verde
1 lb (454 g) tomatillos; husks removed, washed
½ cup onion; peeled and chopped coarsely
½ cup cilantro; washed and chopped
1 hot green pepper, such as serrano or jalapeño (optional, or add more to taste); washed, stem and seeds removed
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (optional)
½ cup water, or as needed (or reserved cooking liquid from chicken, see below)
For stuffed chicken:
4 pieces chicken breasts; skinless, boneless
2 tbsp oil
1 cup corn kernels
½ onion; peeled and chopped finely
2 cups mushrooms; brushed clean and chopped
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 sprig epazote (omit if not available); chopped
Water, as needed, for cooking chicken
1 can cooked pickled cactus (nopales); rinsed and drained (or use cooked green beans, trimmed and sliced into one inch cylinders)
2 potatoes; cooked and cubed (peeling optional)
Prepare the filling for the chicken breasts: Warm up oil in a frying pan over medium heat; add onions and sauté until translucent. Add corn kernels and mushrooms and continue cooking, seasoning with salt and stirring to avoid burning, for about five minutes, until mushrooms are cooked. Incorporate epazote (if using):
Remove from heat and set aside.
Open chicken breasts into tri-fold flat pieces: Working with one chicken breast at a time, place on a cutting board and, holding firmly with one hand, start slicing parallel to the working surface, about one third of the total thickness, measured from the top (photo below, left). Continue cutting and stop at the other end, being careful not to completely separate the layer. Turn around 180 degrees, flip open that layer, then start another horizontal cut in the middle of the remaining meat, to level thickness with the first layer (photo below, right):
Open the second flap to obtain a flat piece, one third of the original thickness; set aside and repeat with the other chicken breasts.
Prepare chicken packets: Take one of the prepared chicken pieces and place a mound of reserved filling in the centre:
Wrap chicken around the filling to form a package, by folding one of the long ends over the filling, then one short (photo below, left), then fold the other long end and finish by folding the last end. Secure junctions with toothpicks (photo below, right):
Repeat with the other pieces of chicken and the rest of the filling.
Fill a pot with enough water to cover the chicken packets; bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Carefully lower the chicken packets into the water, using a large spoon (photo below, left). Bring back to boil, then reduce heat to keep a gentle rolling boil (photo below, right):
Partially cover the pot, and cook for fifteen minutes. Turn off the heat and reserve.
Prepare sauce: Boil tomatillos in water until they may be pricked easily but without falling apart:
Place in a blender jar, along with the rest of the ingredients for the sauce, except water (photo below, left). Process until smooth (photo below, right):
Pour sauce into a pot; if too thick, add some water as needed (or liquid from cooking chicken) to have a good stew consistency:
Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Assemble dish: Remove and discard toothpicks from chicken packets; add packets to sauce:
Cook for another five minutes, being careful not to break the packets while stirring the sauce. Add nopal strips (or green beans) and cubed potatoes:
Cook for a few more minutes, until potatoes are hot. Serve chicken packets with veggies on the side, and a generous scoop of sauce:
I did not include tortillas with the ingredients, because this dish goes equally well with bread, so offer one or the other (or both) on the side, to taste. Slicing the packets and finding the delicious corn and mushroom filling inside was a wonderful bonus to the pleasure of enjoying a batch of my garden tomatillo and cilantro green sauce:
And needless to say, it was a tremendous hit with my husband.
I am sharing my recipe at Over the Moon #229, graciously hosted by Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, and Marilyn @ Marilyn’s Treats. UPDATE: Special thanks to both hostesses for choosing this recipe amongst their features for Over the Moon # 230 with Bev and with Marilyn!
I am bringing my recipe to Thursday Favourite Things #444 with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.