Chef Dina

Now available for Bay Area full service catering in conjunction with "A Fork Full of Earth" organic catering, intimate dinner parties and weekly meal preparation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Smoked Tomato Jam

So, I've sold all my preserves and it's time to make more. Forget the apricots, the berries, the peaches...winter is upon us. However, I managed to scrape up the last of the tomatoes from the farmer's market. My basil is dead and my freezer is full of sauce. What to do with the last 10 pounds of tomatoes?? Figured I might as well smoke them.
Now, I know what you are thinking, there are much better things to smoke up here in Northern California. However, if you've never tried it I suggest you test the waters. I'll be happy to hold your hand your first time...

There are plenty of methods used to smoke food. I will give you two methods that I have MacGyvered in my kitchen. On the (gas) grill because I don't have a charcoal one out here, and on the stove top.

Hickory Smoked on the Grill

You'll need:
  • 2 aluminum roasting pans, the disposable kind you can get at the grocery store
  • charcoal/lighter fluid
  • hickory or some kind of smoking wood chips

I put one roasting pan full of charcoal on the bottom rack, and one roasting pan full of oiled and salted tomatoes on the top rack. Follow instructions on the wood chips. I smoked them for about 30 minutes. Obviously, if you have a charcoal grill, more power to ya. A smoker, I'm sure, works miracles. Unfortunately, mine got left behind somewhere.

Tea Smoked on the Stove
I love this method for all of my smoking needs! You will have to invest some time getting a stove top set up, but then you will have it and will be able to smoke your pork, salmon, whatever. Delicious.

You'll need:
  • a wok
  • a grate or perforated pan of sorts that fits inside. Initially, I though of a round cooling rack, but I couldn't seem to find one that was just the right size. Also, the legs are too short for it to sit high enough above the smoking mixture. I perused Bed Bath and Beyond for some sort of grate that would work. Right before I was about to give up, I saw this pan with holes all over it that is used for cooking vegetables on the grill. It fits PERFECTLY inside the Wok....after you wrestle the handle off of course....that's what husbands are for. You can also use a bamboo steamer on top of the wok, but you have to tuck wet cloths all around the gap between the basket and the wok, which I find clumsy and annoying. I'm sure Ming Tsai or someone like that could explain this method better. . If you are in a pinch, or too impatient to find a good rack, you can use an upside down aluminum pie pan with holes poked in it.
  • aluminum foil
  • a lid that fits securely over the whole set up.
  • 1 c loose tea
  • 1 c rice
  • 1 c brown sugar
Mix together the rice, tea and sugar. Line the inside of the wok and lid with aluminum foil. Put the tea mixture on the bottom of the foil lined wok and place rack on top. The rack should really sit at least an inch or two above the smoking mixture. Place tomatoes on the rack. Turn heat to high for 5 minutes or so until the mixture starts smoking. Secure the lid tightly, making sure there are no holes the smoke can leak out of and turn the heat down a bit. After about 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let them sit in there for 15 more minutes. There, your tomatoes are smoked.

NOW, you've smoked your tomatoes and you're ready to make your munchies!

For the Jam:

3 lbs tomatoes (I had little grape tomatoes so I didn't even chop them up, just smashed them against the side of the pot as they were cooking.)
1 small red onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 C sugar
a small handful chopped fresh parsley or chervil
1/2 t red pepper flakes
fresh ground pepper

Sautee your onion and garlic. Add everything else and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened and all the water from the tomatoes has evaporated. Jar it up!

BLT's with avocado or other sandwich spread
crostini with fresh ricotta cheese
baked chicken topper
Get creative! I've done enough here...

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