Tomatillo Salsa with a Garlic Kick



It’s definitely Fall here on the Eastern Shore, and that means the deer have come out of their hiding places to graze everywhere. Especially when darkness sets in. By the way, did I tell you I drive to work at 4:30 am every day? I see plenty of deer. And I drive slowly because they love to eat the grass on the other side of the road. As the saying goes – it’s always greener.

What does this have to do with tomatillo salsa?

Deer out in the Fall means deer hunters will not be too far behind. And if the deer are out and about early, the hunters are up even earlier. Now, I am not a hunter, I’m just surrounded by them here on the Shore. But I do hear the complaints about the cold temperatures, the damp weather, the misery. Makes me want to run right out a get a hunting license. Join me? Didn’t think so.

But having been on more than my fair share of overnight hikes and campouts, I know exactly what these deer hunters need. They need a breakfast that will stay with them for hours as they tromp through the forest, looking for enough venison to last a few months, and maybe a set of antlers to hang on the wall, much to their significant other’s dismay. They need something that will heat up the fires inside the old gut. Something to ward off any cold or flu bug that might fly by.

If we were in England, this might call for Bubble and Squeak. However, in Northampton County, Virginia we prefer the Deer Hunter’s Breakfast Special (from my Nanowrimo novel in progress. The Apple Pie Alibi.)

[This takes a few days to prepare so some advanced planning is in order.]

Day 1: Bake up several russet potatoes. Plan on two per person, at least. Three might be better. Once they have been thoroughly baked, put them in the cooler. You are done for today; go open a bottle of wine.

Day 2: Make the tomatillo salsa


6 tomatillos, husks removed

6 cloves of garlic – with the skin still on. (This is the kick!)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 package of chocolate truffles

1 bottle of good red wine


In your oven, broil the whole tomatillos and the garlic, two minutes for the garlic and about five minutes for the tomatillos. You don’t want the garlic to burn and you do want the tomatillos to char and get soft. Leave the char on because it will give the salsa umpff (that’s a technical culinary term, I believe.)  Once you have taken the garlic away from the broiler, you can peel the skin off the cloves, assuming you either have very thick skin or you have let the garlic cool enough.

Once the tomatillos have choicely charred, let them cool for a minute whilst you find the blender or food processor. It is undoubtedly in the lowest kitchen cabinet, behind several cookery machines you use more often. It’s the dusty one right next to that new Panini maker you wasted 45 dollars on bought for yourself for your birthday one year, yeah, at least five years ago. Make a note to try a second time with that one. But later. For now, you need the blender way in the back. Yes, that’s the one. Don’t forget the lid.

Put all of the ingredients (except the chocolate and the bottle of wine) into a blender and pulse the blades until the salsa has the consistency you desire. Some people like to keep their salsa rather on the chunky side, others like more of a smooth sauce-like feel and as such blend the mixture until all of the pieces have been pulverized. Your choice.

Once everything has blended, put into a mason jar, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. This is important because it allows the flavors to meld together and intensify. In the meantime, eat a few chocolate truffles and then take the bottle of red wine and go watch some television. With enough wine, all of the shows will look appealing.

Day 3: Dice up the baked potatoes and put them in a large skillet. Add a good hunk or two of butter and some salt and pepper, then turn on the heat and fry the taters up. Once some of the potato cubes start to brown and crisp up, it is time to ladle on a bit of the tomatillo salsa. Let the heat sink in until the salsa and potatoes seem hot.

Now, as the potatoes and salsa are heating back up, in a separate pan scramble some eggs, again two to three per person.

Putting it all together

Put a layer of potatoes and salsa on your plate, and top with the scrambled eggs. Add salt and pepper if that’s your habit. The salsa should be enough spice today.

Eat like there’s no tomorrow. And don’t worry about the calories; remember you are going to be out in the elements so take every advantage you can.

The Deer Hunter’s Breakfast Special – you can’t go wrong!






43 Types of Garlic? Now we’re cooking!


Garlic 1I don’t care what the people at Taco Bueno say, my Aunt Sue is okay in my book. She sent me a care package the other day, a box with two brown paper lunch bags inside. While I enjoy a decent peanut butter and jelly sandwich as much as the next guy, I was not disappointed when I peeked inside.


A sampler pack of 10 varieties, sequestered in their own little individual-sized brown paper sacks and accompanied by a small slip of paper identifying the type of bulb. The notes also had a few lines about the taste, cooking suggestions and other nifty tidbits.  Where did my aunt acquire such bags of goodness?

Why, she’s a member of a “Garlic CSA,” of course.

Now stand down, ye Johnny Rebs, I am not referring to the Confederate States of America. No, this CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” A very cool agri-business model where people, regular people like you, buy a portion of a small farm’s crop in advance. In other words, you pay the farmer $100 up front and at the end of the growing season, you get at least $100 worth of crop. Some farms offer a number of different products, others specialize, for example Garlic!

No huge agriculture / industrial corporations needed. Just plain old, organically grown food – hold the pesticide.

My aunt belongs to the Dyer Family Organic Farm’s garlic CSA, a family owned and operated Michigan farm that is planting 43 varieties garlic this year (yes, 43.) You can learn more about Dyer’s by checking out their website here. All sorts of info and tips about garlic on this site: storage, planting, recipes, everything but the vampire stories. I am thinking garlic tomatillo salsa. Christmas is coming, people at work. Guess what you’re getting!

The really best part? One of the variety is called “Transylvania.”

Oh, the stories I will write…

photo 2