Hood Rich Farms‘ urban farmer & chef Jack Goldenberg: I actually came up with a few “original” dishes and recipes I’ve been legitimately proud of, and I was trying to remember them, when I realized I had no idea what I thought they were at the time. I guess that shows what originality is worth in cooking. I figured the next-best thing to do is to tell you how to make some delicious stuff from what’s in season during the summer.
What do you do with overripe or cracked tomatoes? This is called tomato confit and tomato sauce. In my opinion, this is the best ways to use tomatoes. It is a process, but only a bit of it is hands-on. It’s called “confit” because it cooks basically in olive oil, but it’s a loose play on the word. More so, it references a rich, meaty tomato texture than a duck leg swimming in fat [as confit is generally known for]. It’s basically the best thing I know how to make, and if you’ve never tried it, it is totally worth the effort.
Chef Jack Goldenberg’s Tomato Confit
Servings: depends on how many tomatoes you have lying around
- cracked tomatoes
- olive oil
- thinly sliced garlic
- Start boiling a big pot of water, grab some baking sheets, aluminum foil and a big container of ice water.
- Core out all the tomatoes, cut out any rotten or brown spots, and if that didn’t leave the fruit already looking like Swiss cheese, cut an “X” in the bottom end of each tomato to let the skin fall of easier, as necessary.
- Boil each tomato, a few at a time, for just a few seconds. They’re usually done when they float.
- Then place them into the ice water. You want to make sure the skin is really peeling though. It sucks when you ice it down and realize its hard to peel.
- Once they’re all in the ice water, peel em, quarter em (or if you have different sized tomatoes, then cut them all into the same size piece) and scoop all the seeds and pulp into a bowl [save this bowl full of pulp and seeds for your sauce]. You should be left with a piece of tomato that is only the outer wall of the tomato with its rib but no pulp or hard, white core. If you’re good, there’s almost no seeds and the slice is gracefully shaped like a petal with the reddest, meatiest part of the rib still attached.
- A brief word on the entire situation here: How you process all different kinds of fruits into the same shapes is the whole art here. They’re about to get cooked slowly and evenly, so we want to minimize differences. If you have a big old overripe purple Cherokee and a medium-sized firm red guy, you would not boil them the same amount of time. Also, many of the heirlooms that you’ll likely find dripping gross juices on your windowsill during the summer are prime candidates for this recipe — they already know what shape they want to get cut into, and you’ll have little choice. Just throw any scraps in with the pulp.
- Time to cook! Set the oven to the lowest possible temp, make sure the baking sheets have aluminum foil on them and a thin layer of oil on top.
- Take a tomato slice, dip it into olive oil to coat all sides and gently lay it on the tray so that it stays compact. (It’s definitely an art. The more uniform the shape, the less likely an edge will burn.) Once you cover a tray with tomatoes, salt them all generously and place a sprig of thyme and a slice of garlic on each tomato.
- Get all your pulp [sauce] on the stovetop however your grandmother does it. Everyone has their own technique. I try to taste the juice and see if it needs to be sweeter, more sour, saltier, herbaceous with basil or whatever or aromatic with onion and garlic. I like to cook it down real thick and pass it through a food mill.
- The baking of the tomato slices is pretty mathematical. If the tomatoes had 95% water in them before, you want to cook them until they’re like 5% water — without burning, that is. I try to do it overnight with my oven on as low as possible, and I’ll flip them when I get up and then let them go another hour to dry the bottoms. Maybe 5 hours on 170 degrees is a good start.
- When both sides dry and you’ve concentrated everything into this little bite, set them aside in a container covered in oil to keep them longer. Use the oil when you’re done. Eat these with everything. Obviously if you just made 5 quarts of sauce in thirty minutes and two ounces of dried tomatoes in six tedious hours, you want to give the sauce as gifts and keep the confit tomato for yourself.