3 Ways to Cook with Tomatillos — Chopped Junior

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In a recent Chopped Junior episode, the budding chefs attempted to dice and saute their way to the $10,000 prize. The competitors opened basket after basket until only one contestant was left standing.

These young cooks proved they are well-versed in cooking techniques: vacuum-sealing proteins in marinade to infuse flavor quickly, turning sloppy joes into elevated meatballs, and churning mayonnaise into creamy and cold ice cream.

At least one contestant in each round conquered outside-the-box ingredients such as popped corn chips, Sicilian pesto and fruit drink pouches. But among the strange ingredients plucked from each basket, a fruit caught our eye: tomatillos.

If you aren’t familiar, tomatillos are a cooking staple in Mexico. Don’t let the name fool you: They are more akin to a gooseberry in taste than a tomato. As judge Geoffrey Zakarian noted, raw tomatillos can be bitter. Cooking the fruit will bring out its pleasant tartness.

The contestants worked the finicky fruit into their dishes, deep-frying, pulverizing and charring them to add a hint of tanginess to their dishes. With the many ways to use tomatillos on our mind, we looked to the experts at Food Network Kitchen for a few more ideas:

Grilled Chicken Tostadas al Carbon with Grilled Tomatillos and Queso Fresco (pictured above)

This chicken tostada derives a lot of its fresh, vibrant flavor from the grilled tomatillos.

Tomatillo Scallop Ceviche

In this recipe the tomatillos are charred, which brings a balanced smokiness to the scallop ceviche.

Chicken Chilaquiles with Tomatillo Sauce

Tomatillo puree adds just the right amount of tanginess to this hearty chicken chilaquiles dish that you can serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Watch Chopped Junior on Tuesdays at 8|7c to see what unique things the kids whip up next.