Friday, March 2, 2012

50 Women Game Changers in Food - #37 Severine von Tscharner Fleming - Tomatilla Chicken

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If my math is correct, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, highlighted this week on the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game Changers in food, has just passed her 30th birthday. Her parents are urban planners and while at college she majored in Conservation and AgroEcology. As an undergraduate, she co-founded the Pomona Organic Farm and formed the Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology at the University of California, Berkeley. At that time, she believed films on food and agriculture focused more on problems than solutions, so, she set out to make a documentary of her own. As she traveled the country seeking material for the film, she began to organize young farmers and in the process became one herself. She co-founded the National Young Farmers Coalition to promote progressive farming policy and founded the Greenhorns, an organization designed to socially connect those new to farming through events and an informational website, The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles, that offers networking and advice. Her film, The Greenhorns, is a documentary about these young "organic entrepreneurs." Now a documentary film maker, activist, organizer and farmer, she has done more in 30 years than most do in 60. Her film grew into a small non-profit organization, the Greenhorns, that produces information for and about the young farming community. The organization also produces a weekly radio show, a blog and a resource guide for beginning farmers. Their goal is to recruit, promote and support the growing number of young people who are "reclaiming, restoring, retrofitting and respecting this country of ours." In her spare time, she also farms in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Because she is an activist and organizer rather than a chef or recipe developer, it was very difficult to find recipes that Severine created. I relied, instead, on recipes developed by others who contribute to the Greenhorns website. I had originally intended to feature a beer-cheese soup, but when I did a final read of the ingredient list I had to back away. It simply used too much butter and cheese to be included here. I'm sure the soup is super delicious but it's not my goal to put the Silver Fox in an early, albeit organic, grave, so I moved on, looking for something that would be more healthy but just as easy to make. I found this lovely recipe for Tomatillo Chicken on the Farm Girl Farm blog. I really like this recipe, but I have two suggestions to pass on to you. I think the chicken would be more tender if it the active poaching time was reduced to about 10 minutes. This is a dish were boneless chicken thighs, which remain moist and tender when braised or stewed, would work really well as a stand-in for breast meat. I also think a flour slurry or stock reduction is needed to thicken the sauce ever so slightly. This is an easy, inexpensive and satisfying meal, especially if served over rice. I hope you'll give this a try. Here's the recipe.

Tomatillo Chicken...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Catherine J. Harley via Farm Girl Farm Recipes

6 free-range chicken skinless, boneless breast halves
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 hot peppers
1 bay leaf
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pound whole tomatillos, husked
1/3 cup, chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
salt, to taste
sour cream, garnish

1) In a covered large Dutch oven, simmer chicken in broth with onion, peppers, garlic, and bay leaf for 15 minutes after reaching a boil . Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes. I simmered my chicken for 7 minutes and let it sit covered for 10 minutes longer.) Remove chicken from pot and set aside until cool enough to handle.
2) Meanwhile, add tomatillos to pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil tomatillos, uncovered for 10 minutes or until soft. With a slotted spoon transfer tomatillos and peppers to a blender, add cilantro and puree. Pour mixture back into stock and mix well. Season to taste. (I added a slurry here). Pull chicken breasts apart into large chunks and add back to tomatillo mixture. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Serve hot with tortilla chips, guacamole or avocado slices. (I served ours over rice). Garnish with a dollop of sour cream. Yield: 6 servings.

The following bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Severine von Tscharner today. I hope you'll pay them all a visit. They are great cooks who have wonderful blogs.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Sue - The View from Great Island, Barbara - Movable Feasts
Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen, Annie - Most Lovely Things, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table

Next week we will highlight the career and recipes of Darina Allen. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information no later than Monday, March 5th.


Liesl said...

I love tomatillos! I can't wait to try this with Quorn or Gardein.

Alessandra said...

Uh, I could do tomatilla tofu! :-)

Ciao Mary!


Diane said...

This sounds wonderful, can I come to dinner please LOL Diane

Sue/the view from great island said...

Sorry I missed this week, Severine is quite a woman and a game changer in a completely new arena. Your dish was a great choice, the flavors seem really bright and fresh. You're right, it does look very healthy, too. I've never known what to do with tomatillos...thanks for this idea!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

It sounds exceptional Mary. I continue to thank you for introducing us to all o these women.

Tanna said...

I love Ms. Flemings idea to create films about solutions not problems!! LOVE that approach.

This Tomatilla Chicken sounds wonderful! Thank you for passing it along and adding a few tweaks! blessings ~ tanna

Unknown said...

I actually know Severine's story.. she is amazing! This is a great homage to her, Mary!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I just made a dish with a tomatilla sauce. I used ground pumpkin seeds for a thickener.

Heather S-G said...

Yum, that sounds delicious. Love tomatillo anything, though. And...uh...well...I made Beer Cheese Soup.

Kim said...

Tomatillos are not that easy to find around here. I have to go to a south american store when I want to eat some. Next time i'm going these, I'll buy some of these, this chicken looks good!

Susan Lindquist said...

I have never worked with tomatillas! This does look delicious and much lighter than the beer and cheese number that you were contemplating! Good decision! Severine is a force of nature, isn't she?

Angela said...

I love tomatillos. Looks great.

Angela said...

I love tomatillos. Looks great.

Joanne said...

Wow, she is so young to have accomplished so much! Quite impressive. This chicken dish sounds like it's bursting with flavor.

Patsy said...

Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I think your blog is fantastic! Patsy

The Harried Cook said...

Wow! This sounds so flavorful! I love the generous amount of cilantro... Thanks for sharing this recipe, Mary!

Kathy Walker said...

I love salsa is my favorite. I will have to give this a try.

Cindy said...

What a delicious looking muffin. We will try it soon.

Barbara said...

Yes, your chicken dish does look nice and healthy, Mary. She was an interesting game changer and one I'd never heard of.

BeetleBuggy said...

Oooooo this recipe literally had me drooling! It sounds so good! This is definitely going into my books to try! Great background on Severine!

Elaine said...

What a fascinating woman. I am from Northern California and have not heard of her. I make tomatillo chicken often and I agree with you that the chicken thighs are a great substitution for the breast meat.

Jeanette said...

What a unique dish, thanks for all the adjustments you suggested. Wonderful recipe to pay tribute to Severine von Tscharner Fleming by.

France@beyondthepeel said...

What an incredible woman. I love reading stories like that. It's so empowering.

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