Make This: Ashley Christensen's Homegrown Tomato Pie with Buttermilk Cheddar and Horseradish | Food
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Make This: Ashley Christensen's Homegrown Tomato Pie with Buttermilk Cheddar and Horseradish

Posted by on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 9:18 AM

click to enlarge Ashley Christensen's Homegrown Tomato Pie as pictured in Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner - PHOTO COURTESY OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE/JOHNNY AUTRY
  • Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House/Johnny Autry
  • Ashley Christensen's Homegrown Tomato Pie as pictured in Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner
I call this Homegrown Tomato Pie, not as a sourcing requirement, but because the tomato pie is most present in the season where friends are pulling tomatoes daily from their own backyards. I imagine it came to be because when a fruit is plentiful, people always find a way to bake it into a pie. Basil is a natural complement for this dish (and I’ve included it as an option), but the thyme is delicious, and bit unexpected. In the months where delicious tomatoes aren’t flooding every backyard, our roasted Roma tomatoes sub in nicely, and equip you to roll right into building the layers of the pie. I’ve made this a recipe for two pies, because in the event that you don’t eat them both, gifting one to a friend or neighbor will earn you great favor.

Yield: 2 pies

4 pounds tomatoes (beefsteak or heirloom are both great; you could even use Romas)
Fine sea salt
2 eggs
1½ cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
¼ cup milk
¼ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 12 leaves of fresh basil, torn small)
1 pound Buttermilk Cheddar (extra sharp cheddar is a suitable substitute), grated
2 9-inch deep-dish pie crusts (preliminarily baked, and cooled)
Black peppercorn in a pepper mill

Pre-heat a convection oven to 350°.

Fill a large pot three quarters of the way full with water and bring to a boil. While the water is coming up, core the tomatoes. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow X-shaped incision on the bottom of each of the tomatoes, doing your best to cut just the skin, and not into the flesh.

Once the water reaches a boil, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water; set it within easy reach of the stove. Working in batches, place the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook until the cut skin at the bottom of the tomato begins to stretch and peel away; this usually takes between 45 and 90 seconds. As this happens, transfer the tomatoes, one by one, to the ice bath. Once the tomatoes are cool, peel their skins off using your hands, and set them into a colander to strain off any excess liquid.

Slice the tomatoes into ¼-inch thick slices and lay out in a single layer on baking sheets. Generously season the face of each tomato (about twice as heavy as you would season a tomato to put in your sandwich). Allow the tomatoes to sit for 20 minutes. This will draw out moisture, which prevents the pie from being watery. Once the tomatoes have marinated for 20 minutes, transfer them to a salad spinner in 3 batches, and spin all of the excess liquid off of the tomatoes. (My mom taught me this trick; we like to save the drippings to make tomato vinaigrette, or to throw into a vegetable sauté or pasta.)

To make the custard, whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the mayo, Dijon, horseradish, milk, cream, and thyme.

Layer a small amount of cheddar in the bottom of each piecrust, and then make a layer of tomato slices, with each slice’s edge overlapping its neighbor’s. Using the pepper grinder, crack peppercorn over the face of the tomatoes. Sprinkle another layer of cheese, and then drizzle enough of the custard over the top to drip through and cover all of the ingredients. Repeat these steps, starting with the tomatoes and ending with the custard, until all of the ingredients are gone (I usually get three tomato layers). You’ll need to bravely stack the ingredients higher than the edge of the pie crust. Have faith: it won’t overflow.

Place the pies on sheet trays, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pies and bake for another 30. Transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool and set for 1 hour before serving. Truth be told, if you can stand the wait, it’s even better reheated the next day.

Reprinted with permission from Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen, © 2016. Photography by Johnny Autry. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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Deliciously written, Sharon. I want some of that chicken right now!

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Deliciously written, Sharon. I want some of that chicken right now!

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