Think of some of your favorite memories...I bet that at least a few of them had something to do with eating. When I think back on some of my favorite moments almost all of the have some sort of food involved. I don't know if this is because we have a tendency to gather our friends and families around a meal or if it's just because I spend too much time eating. Either way, I've gotten it into my head to try to cook some of the foods associated with my favorite memories.
But first, the memory. When I was in college there was a little restaurant called Mad Mex about 1.1 miles from my dorm (thank you Google maps!). This little place had half price food after 11pm (in retrospect the though of eating Mexican food after 11pm terrifies me, but I was young and reckless then). They also had full priced, but enormous alcoholic beverages. So, as you can imagine, this was a popular hangout for the sizable population of local college students.
On this particular night, I was ensconced highly coveted large corner booth with 5 or 6 of my friends. We were eating and drinking, I was pleasantly buzzed, it was a good night. Suddenly two girls jumped up onto the bar and started dancing to the song jungle boogie. Their hands hit the hanging lights and sent them swinging. It was just one of those perfect moments that live up to everything you could have imagined. I'm not sure, but I suspect that at that moment I felt the way popular people must feel.
Anyway, I was eating this Chickpea chili at that fateful moment. In an attempt to regain that feeling of popularity in my own home I whipped up a fresh batch. Here is the recipe:
* 2 pounds fresh tomatillos, washed and peeled
* 2 jalapeno peppers, stems removed
* 1/2 cup roughly chopped Spanish onion (1/2-inch pieces)
* 4 cloves garlic
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 (32 ounces) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Heat the oven to 500 degrees.
Place the tomatillos in a heavy-duty ovenproof pan or pot with the jalapenos, onion, garlic, kosher salt and olive oil. Place the vegetables in the oven and roast until they are soft and lightly browned, for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the tomatillo mixture from the oven, pour into a blender and puree until smooth. You might have to do this in 2 batches. Pour the pureed mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, and pour the strained mixture into a saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat. Add the chickpeas, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir in the pepper and cilantro.
Was it as good and I remembered....well, no. I think that the atmosphere was a little lacking. Or maybe it was the fact that I had to trade my Mad Mex Tequila Bulldog for a diet coke.
Makes about 6 1/2 cups.