In his debut cookbook, Soul, chef Todd Richards eschews any notions as to what soul food should be and presents his interpretation of the cuisine. Influenced by the cuisines of different cultures he experiences, Richards embraces today's global pantry to create dishes such as curried lamb ribs with crawfish butter-boiled potatoes and ginger and collard green fried rice.
Highlighting this ethos of cooking, Richards uses tomatillos in place of more traditional green tomatoes for frying. He then pairs it with an ancho chile barbecue sauce inspired by mole sauce he "put on everything" as a child. "Todd's idea of soul food isn't 'supposed to be' anything but delicious," Sean Brock states in the book's introduction. Instead, the recipes presented are a reflection of his ancestors, upbringing, experiences and creativity as a cook.
Get the recipe for his fried tomatillos with ancho chile barbecue sauce below.
Fried Green Tomatillos with Ancho Chile BBQ SauceExcerpted from Soul by Todd Richards. Copyright © 2018 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Meredith Corporation. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
If it wasn't for my mother's love of tacos, I wouldn't have been exposed to Mexican food at an early age. Though we lived on the east side of Chicago, I didn't venture to the "far" East Side until my late teens. That's when I discovered the mole sauce I put on everything: ribs, chicken, fried catfish, and even fried green tomatoes. Once Dad got me a car, I would drive to the "far" East Side to pick up tacos and then head to the Queen of the Sea buffet for sweet potatoes, turkey, and fried green tomatoes. As odd as it sounds, something about that combination was special.
I started making Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce early in my career. Anchos provide a depth of smokiness similar to Dad's barbecue sauce that really works here.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) whole buttermilk
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons kosher salt
6 large tomatillos, husks removed and cut into ½-inch slices
1 cup (about 4 ¼ ounces) stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) masa harina (corn flour)
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup (4 ounces) corn oil
Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce (recipe below)
1. Whisk together the buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, black pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt in a medium bowl. Add the tomatillo slices to the buttermilk mixture, 1 at a time, ensuring the slices are well coated. Let stand at room temperature 25 minutes before breading.
2. Stir together the cornmeal, flours, granulated onion, granulated garlic, paprika and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a shallow dish. Remove the tomatillo slices from the marinade, 1 slice at a time, and dredge in the cornmeal mixture.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. Arrange the tomatillo slices in the skillet, leaving at least 1/4-inch between slices. Fry, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot with the Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce.
Note: This dish can accompany many types of dishes. It pairs well with smoked ribs as well as most onion dishes.
To Drink: White Burgundy, Grenache, Prosecco, dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, amber beers, mezcal cocktails
Serve with: Braised greens; beans and field peas; tomato, grits, pork dishes; avocado; buttermilk dressing
Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce
2 teaspoons blended olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 medium-size yellow onions, diced
2 dried ancho chiles, rehydrated in hot water, stemmed and seeded
1 poblano chile, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and halved lengthwise
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup (4 ounces) whiskey
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup (2 ounces) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sorghum syrup or dark molasses
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add the cumin seeds, and cook, stirring constantly to avoid burning, 1 minute. Add the onions, ancho chiles, poblano, jalapeño and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in the whiskey, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, syrup, sugar and salt. Return the pan to medium, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let stand 10 minutes.
3. Process the mixture with an immersion blender or standard blender until smooth. (If using a standard blender, remove the center of the blender lid to allow steam to escape and to prevent overflowing.) For a thinner sauce, pour the mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer and discard the solids. Store sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month. Makes about 1 cup.
Photo by Greg DuPree.