Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tomato concassé

Follow-up/Q&A from the last post:

Crystal: You can just leave out the pig's feet, it would change the flavor a little, but not too much. The pig's feet are there because you want to get the collagen in the sauce. It really helps in making it thicker, and making it bind a bit more.

Also, you could eliminate the bacon from the beginning and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock if you want to go vegetarian.

Max: You can find chicken and beef stock in every store, and that's what I’m using. Most of the time it comes in cans, but you can also find it in cardboard containers. I don't really have time to make my own stock, but I do have a whole chicken in my freezer, so maybe one of these days I will, and I’ll demo it too!!

If you don't want to buy stock, you can buy chicken base, which is chicken stock reduced down to about 5% it's original volume. With this stuff, you have to add water to reconstitute it. Or, if you live in the woods (Max lives in Alaska, so sometimes I wonder if he has to kill his own food) you could kill a chicken, grow some onions, celery and carrots and make it all yourself.

Now, on to tomato concassé.
Before I start, I want to tell everyone that (if you don't already know) that summer is the best time for tomatoes. Right now in the winter they are very hard and their flavor just is not as good as it could be.

Also, different tomatoes have different purposes. Roma tomatoes are best for this task (boiling, shocking, and chopping) because their flesh is very firm. Grape/cherry tomatoes are best for salad garnish because they are great, juicy little morsels. Beefsteak/hothouse tomatoes are best for slicing because the flesh is very loose and would really fall apart for this kind of task. They are also very seed heavy.

For a tomato sauce, roma tomatoes are best because the flesh gives you the best firmness to keep the sauce thick.

You will need a paring knife, a large pot to boil water in, and a large bowl to keep cold water in.

So, put the water on to boil.

While you're waiting for it to boil, take the tomato and score the bottom with an 'x' that is a half inch long.

Now, put them in the boiling water. You want a large pot for this because you want to make sure the water is boiling. If the pot is small, the tomatoes will cool the water too much and they won't boil.

You want to keep these in the water for less than a minute, depending on how hard the tomato is.

You'll know they're ready when the skin starts to peel off.

Now, shock the tomatoes; take them out of the boiling water and put them directly in the coldest water you can find. You're supposed to use ice water, but I don't have an ice maker, and the tap water is really cold at my apartment, so I was successful with this.

The reason you do this is to prevent the flesh of the tomato from cooking. You don't want to boil the tomatoes, you just want to loosen the skin, so putting them in the cold water stops them from cooking.

You want to make sure the tomatoes are cold all the way through.

Now, the skin should very easily peel right off the tomatoes.

Also, core the tomato.

Now, cut it in half lengthwise.

Now, pull the seeds and the gooey parts out. I found that it's really easy to get the seeds out if you have the tomato in the cold water; the seeds are attracted to water.

Once you've pulled all the seeds out, roughly chop the tomato.

Just cut it up one way, turn it and cut it up the other way.

When you're in the store, and you see canned, diced tomatoes, this is what you're getting. So there!

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