this recipe began it's life as a soup. never one to leave well enough alone, i messed about with it, and the results were pretty awesome, if i do say so myself. the tomatillo base is essentially a salsa verde, and you can definitely use it as such.
Mexican Chicken and Rice
2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well and cut in half
1 habanero chili, stem removed OR 1-3 jalapenos, serranos or chili of your preference (this is how you're going to determine the heat level, so choose wisely. i went with the one whole habanero, seeds intact, and it was a good slow burn that builds rather nicely. if you're not really into spicy food, go with the 1 jalapeno, or remove the seeds before adding it to the base.)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tbsp lime (or lemon) juice
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed well, stems intact
Pinch of sugar
2 lbs frozen, boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white rice (i used jasmine, because it's what i had, but you can use whatever you want. brown rice would probably work just as well.)
1 teaspoon dry oregano (preferably Mexican) or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon dry epazote (you don't *need* this, but i like it. and obviously, use 1 tablespoon of fresh if you can find it.)
start with the tomatillo base. place chili and tomatillos, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until they just start to blacken in spots. set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, then add them to a blender or food processor with any juices that accumulated and the garlic, salt, lime/lemon juice, cilantro and sugar. blend until there are no large chunks remaining.
preheat oven to 400° and place chicken on a foil-lined sheet. spoon enough of the tomatillo sauce over the chicken to coat, then cover with more foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil, turn over, add a little more sauce and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until juices are clear and the internal temperature reads about 160. set aside to cool, then cut into 1 inch cubes.
heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. add onions and cook until just starting to brown. add cumin, coriander, and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
add tomatillo sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. add chicken stock, raise heat and bring to a boil. add rice, chicken, oregano, epazote and salt and pepper to taste and lower heat to medium-low. simmer, partially covered 25-30 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.