Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tip: How To Fire Roast Tomatoes

I hate winter tomatoes. 

They are flavorless, expensive, and only local if you define "local" as - "on the same continent".   They might be red but they aren't even really ripe.  They just have been exposed to ethylene (C2H4).  That reddens the skin but it isn't going to ripen the insides much, if at all.
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But there is a way that you can concentrate the flavor that they do have and enhance them with additional flavor.  Fire roasting.   And that is what I did tonight because I couldn't bear using weak winter tomatoes in the dinner I was making.  

Most people fire roast tomatoes over direct flame, but I don't.  I think that doing them indirect does a better job of concentrating the flavor.  Here is the process I use, it's a variation of Wolfgang Puck's Oven Dried Tomatoes from his book Live, Love Eat! .  I use fire instead, raise the cooking temp, and do a few slight adjustments.   You could do the same thing using your oven.

Fire Roasted Tomatoes
adapted from Live, Love, Eat! by Wolfgang Puck

4 ea tomatoes (Roma works best, I used "cluster" tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Fire up your grill for an indirect heat set up at 300f.  If using a pizza stone, have it in there preheating.  If using a baking sheet, you'll put it in later.

Score a 1" x across the top of each tomato.  It only has to be deep enough to go all the way through the skin.

Blanche the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute and then shock them by submerging them in an ice bath.  Let them sit for a few minutes.

Cut out the core end of each tomato with a sharp paring knife.  Peel the skins off of the tomato and discard them. 

Cut each tomato into wedges.  I cut romas in fourths, larger tomatoes in sixths.  Cut out the seeds and discard.

Place the cleaned wedges on parchment paper on a baking pan (or in my case, on parchment paper on a pizza peel used to transfer them to the grill).  Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the olive oil.  Sprinkle them with the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Place in the 300f grill and cook for 1 hour with the lid closed.

When they come out, you may have a few black spots but that is fine. 

Let them cool and then place them in a glass bowl.  Top the bowl off with the rest of the olive oil (as much as needed to cover) and seal tightly.  They will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator. 

These are great on pizza, in rice dishes, or just about anything you might want to use a tomato for.

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I was supposed to do the drawing last Wednesday to give away Fire Ant Juice and Pineapple Jalapeno Chutney.  That was before three out of four of use came down with influenza.  So tonight I drew the winner from the eligible entries using Random.org.  And the winner is:  

Don't forget you can still get a free bottle with each order you place between now and whatever date I put in this link here (I'm too lazy to look it up right now!).  Just include "Nibble Me This" in the comments section of the order form and Chef Wayne will hook you up.


  1. Good call on the fire roasted nasty winter tomatoes! They are just blahhhh. Honestly, I didnt even get any good tomatoes here this summer.

  2. So good. I even love them roasted in the oven. It's amazing what the process does to concentrate the flavor in even not so great tomatoes. Already can't wait for that first summer tomato! (the heat I can do without tho)

  3. Sorry to hear you've been ailing and thanks for the tomato roasting process.

  4. What a great idea to fire roast these miserable tasting winter tomatoes. This I gotta try.

  5. Congrats to Chilebrown!!
    I was just complaining about winter tomatoes over the weekend!! This is a great idea - I love fire roasted tomatoes! I have never done them in wedges like that though. Will have to do that next time.

  6. Thanks for the plug! Hey -Do you ever watch Lucinda Scala Quinn's show "Mad Hungry". I think I love her.

  7. I'd love to try to make these myself! I'm a lover of the canned variety, so I know I'd get hooked! I roast winter tomatoes all the time-- makes them soooo much better!

  8. Did you know that Florida produces about 80% of all the tomatoes grown in the U.S. from December to May? We produce tasteless Winter tomatoes. They are picked green and rock hard. Winter tomatoes really benefit from being oven roasted or fire roasted (I prefer your method).

    Thanks for sharing with your readers a really good way to enjoy tomatoes during the cold months.


  9. Glad to read you're feeling better...we made these tomatoes yesterday - had the neighbor kids over to help me make gnocchi and we roasted tomatoes for our sauce - it was excellent! Thanks so much, this is a keeper! My son told me last night I'm "in the lead" by 15 votes...I spit on that - so I need you to VOTE for me again TODAY! After all, this IS your fault! xo, Nan

  10. The influenza bug struck our house, too! It was not fun...I still have the cough after 12 days! I hope you and your family are on the mend...

    Your tomatoes look incredible! I am going to make them for pizza this weekend...thanks, Chris!

    Kim in MD

  11. I love fire roasted tomatoes... I could eat the whole plate full.

  12. The worst part of winter...not the snow...not the sub-zero temps...not having to wear claustrophobic coats in the car...but those darn winter tomatoes! I'm just wondering if they even have any nutritional value. I love Russ's blog. My daily dose of big smiles.


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