As the days get colder, the summer fruits reach the end of their harvest. My friend Joan Hamilton out at Emerald Park has been growing Tomatillos in her organic garden for the past couple of years, and she has been willingly supplying me with her wonderful fruit. For the past couple of months I have been roasting them whole and making a wonderful tomatillo salsa.
I first encountered tomatillos at what has become my all time favorite Tex Mex restaurant – Güero’s at 1412 South Congress in Austin, Texas. Surrounded by a collection of quirky boutique shops, and just a stones throw from the iconic Continental Club, (where a couple of Sundays ago I was lucky enough to catch an amazing live performance by the great picker Junior Brown), this great taqueria, in the style of an old Mexican Cantina just keeps me coming back. The traditional Marguerites shaken with fresh lime juice are truly excellent, so much better than the slurpy confection frequently encountered across the US.
The almost innocent bravado on the portraits of Mexican banditos and revolutionaries staring down from the brick walls seems vaudevillian, especially here in Texas, where the official State motto is “Remember the Alamo”, where at Gonzales during the first battle of the Texan Revolution, Texican Colonists raised a flag to taunt the Mexicans with the words “Come and Take It”. Today the phrase is everywhere, on walls, t-shirts and bumper stickers. In my mind it is the embodiment of that intangible thing that makes Texas different to the rest of the United States. Viva la difference!
The food is not the best Tex Mex there is, but the atmosphere is so good it might as well be. And Güero’s was where I first tasted Taco El Pastor. Sweet Pork, Pineapple and Corriander on a soft fresh made taco.
Two weeks later I am back in Jamieson. It is Easter and it looks like I am having twenty friends and family round for lunch in the courtyard. Its going to be an eclectic crowd – a cheese distributor, an ex SAS chopper pilot who now works in Nigeria, a dietician, an inventor, a bike mechanic. Time to fire up the Pizza oven. Over the past few months I have been slowly curing the oven, and perfecting a sour dough pizza base, which without boasting I reckon is now spot on – rye leaven with organic unbleached flour and sea salt.
What about a pizza based on that wonderful Taco El Pastor. I have Joan’s tomatillos, I have fresh Queensland pineapple and some pork fillet. I have no idea how they cooked the pork at Güero’s, but I reckon it will be pretty good stir fried with garlic and Indonesian Kecap. I get my sons Paddy and Jack to help out with the oven. Paddy, a pyromaniac since birth fires up the oven to a temperature that would turn copper into gold. The crowd arrive.
I sprinkle the base with the stir fried pork, pineapple pieces, and some sliced dried red ancho pepper that I have reconstituted in water. When the pizza comes out of the oven I top it with tomatillo salsa and fresh coriander and serve it to my ravenous guests. It’s a runaway success, the elements of the El Pastor are still there, but the puffy sourdough base, the ancho, and the homemade roasted salsa are delicious. So good I’m sharing the recipe here. Happy eating all!