Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tomato Pie

I've made well over a half dozen tomatoe pies in the past year, all in an attempt to duplicate the wonderful piece I first had at Two Blondes and a Shrimp well over a year ago. My last two attempts have succeeded, wildly!

Tomato pie is layers of fresh ripe tomatoes layered with cheddar cheese. The recipe I found and adapted from Cuisine magazine had been a true winner.

I start with about 2 or so pounds of ripe red beefsteak tomatoes--at the peak of ripeness and flavor. I core them and cut them into 1/4 to 3/8 inch slices, slightly salt them, and put on several layers of paper towels and let drain for 1/2 to one hour. Lots of paper towels, that is--the trick is to get the moisture out. While they are draining, i thinly slice 4 scallions and set aside. Then in a bowl I mix about a cup or so (about 4 oz) of shredded seriously sharp cheddar, about 2 oz of shredded monterey jack cheese, a quarter to 1/3 cup of mayo, and 4-5 teaspoons of cornstarch. It makes a kind of pasty concotion. Best to leave at room temperature, too. 

Once the tomatoes are drained, you have to take more paper towels and press on them and really dry them out. The drier the better. You will go through a lot of paper towels, but it's worth it.

Now get the crust ready. I cheat and use a prerolled refrigerated crust. Line a 9 inch pie plate with one. Get some good quality deli aged cheddar cheese, have it sliced fairly thin, lay it out in a grid pattern and trace the pie plate on it, then line the pie crust with the cheese. This will help insulate the crust from the moist tomatoes. The crust should be well chilled, too. 

Now to create the dish. Layer 1/3 of the tomatoes in the pie crust over your cheddar cheese "shield," dot with 1/2 of the cheese/mayo mixture, and spread 1/2 of the scallions. Press it down good and tight. Now another 1/3 of the tomatoes and the other halves of the mayo/cheese mixture and scallions. Finally, top with the last 1/3 of the tomatoes. Cover with a top crust and seal and flute the edges, then cut four oval shaped vents in the top to let excess moisture out.

Meanwhile, get your oven hot and use a pizza stone or a heavy metal sheet pan. It should be hot, 450 degrees. When hot, place the pie on the hot pizza stone (this will help cook the crust on the bottom so it cooks first and does not get all wet from the moist tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 and bake another 40 minutes until the crust is golden (just like in the picture).

Now comes the hardest part. Wait. And wait. And wait some more. This pie must cool to room temperature and not a degree more. If you do not let it cool completely, it will be moist and watery. Patience is a virtue and will pay off here. Once it is completely cooled (you did wait at least the full 3 hours, right?), slice with a sharp knife and serve. You will have the most amazing tomato pie you've ever tasted. You will want to savor each and every amazing bite, then do it all over again. Yes, it is that good!

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