My friend Joan Breidenback, who every year rents a house twice a year in the surrounds of ancient Santa Fe, has developed a palate for the lively, colorful high-desert country cuisine of the Southwest. This is her mother’s recipe. Fritters are an excellent way to use leftover meat, fruit, and vegetables by folding them into a batter, but have a bad reputation because of their need to be deep-fried. But in this recipe they are conveniently cooked in a frying pan just like a pancake, just until crispy. Corn fritters are an excellent savory dish with made-ahead fresh tomatillo salsa, known as salsa verde cruda. Don’t shy away from this recipe if you have never used the tart, hard green tomato so beloved in the Mexican kitchen before; they are easy to work with and this recipe will become a favorite.
Makes about 30 fritters, serves 10
2 pounds tomatillos, papery husks removed and rinsed
6 tablespoons chopped white onion (you can use the small boiling onions)
2 small red jalapeño peppers, seeded and rough interior removed
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Juice of 3 fresh limes, to taste
Salt, to taste
6 large ears of fresh yellow or white corn
6 large eggs
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup each vegetable oil and butter, for frying
Make the salsa. Place the whole tomatillos in a saucepan and barely cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook just until they are slightly soft and the color fades, but still whole, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Place the onion, jalapeño, cilantro, juice of 1 lime, and salt in a blender jar or food processor; process a few times just to combine. Drain the tomatillos and add; process a few seconds until just broken up. Keep the mixture nice and chunky. Adjust the texture with more lime juice and taste for salt. Leave at room temperature and serve within a few hours or refrigerate overnight, although it is best served the day it is made. Makes 2 cups.
Over a bowl, cut the corn from the cobs and scrape thoroughly to get some of the milk. Place in a blender jar or food processor with the eggs, flour, salt, and pepper. Mix a few seconds, just until almost smooth with some chunky pieces of corn are left throughout.
Line a platter with a double layer of paper towels. Heat about 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a heavy skillet until very hot, almost to the smoking stage. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into the skillet. Do not overcrowd. Fry until the edges start to brown, turn over with a metal pancake turner, and fry on the other side. Fritters will be crispy and golden brown. Remove to the platter (they can be kept warm in a 250º oven). Add the butter and oil to the skillet for the next batch of fritters. Serve with tomatillo salsa to spoon over.
Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.