Tomates à la Crème

This is worth repeating. The recipe is by Pomiane, but the source used by most people is Elizabeth David, with other versions being from Simon Hopkinson, Julian Barnes, and Ginette Mathiot. (There is a tomates à la Polonaise in Cooking in Ten Minutes, but that involves cooking finely minced onions on a high heat for five minutes, so I’m a little suspicious of the translation.)

Here’s what I do.

Gather as many medium tomatoes as you fancy. (Really small or really huge toms won’t work.) They can be cryogenic, artillery grade supermarket tomatoes as well, because this process really brings out the flavour.

Slice them in half and grind a little salt and plenty of pepper over the cut faces. If the tomatoes are really depressing, and completely pale and rock-like on the inside, sprinkle a small amount of brown sugar on the cut faces as well. Place them face down in a hot pan in which you’ve melted some butter. The pan should be hot enough for everything to be politely sizzling, but not so hot the butter starts going brown.

Fry for five minutes. (Or, longer on a low heat if you have time.) As they fry, pierce the skins of each a few times with a sharp knife.

Turn them over and fry face up for another five minutes. The faces should have coloured a bit, with a bit of brown, but no black. There may also be some sticky goo clinging to the bottom of the pan. Good.

Turn them cut face down again. They will probably hiss and exude juice, and they certainly will if you accidentally on purpose turn up the heat. Tip in some double cream. Once the cream is bubbling, stir and scrape to mix it with the butter and tomato juice, and incorporate any sticky stuff on the bottom of the pan.

Serve immediately, with plenty of bread or pasta to soak up the juices.

Quantities

I’ve been a bit vague. Assuming six tomatoes somewhere in size between a squash ball and a tennis ball, I reckon you’ll need 20g of butter and 40mL of cream.

Variations

Hopkinson mentions adding some torn up mint leaves with the cream. A small amount of basil won’t hurt, either.

In the unlikely event you have leftovers, fry some prawns in garlic and chilli, and then add the leftovers, and some pasta.

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