t o m a t o e s

I didn’t want anything to do with tomatoes growing up.

It seemed like everybody liked them except me — but why?

Was it the watery, tasteless reddish white disk saturating my hamburger bun?
Well, sort of.
I have issues with tomatoes on sandwiches. While I’ve grown to adore tomatoes, they do cause what I like to call “sandwich tectonic shift”. It’s when you go to bite down into your well crafted sandwich only to have the back half of the tomato come shooting out causing the whole sandwich to shift. (I know, the humanity!!)

And while I’m hatin’ on the tomato now, this post will be about honoring the lovely ripened reds, yellows, oranges and greens.

I remember my parents buying biscuits and tomato gravy at a gas station when they brought us to school. Seeing as how I hated tomatoes, I simply chose the white stuff with black specks and chunks of sausage. You still can’t go wrong with sausage gravy. I mean, you can, but it’s pretty hard.

Regardless, I felt the call to give it another shot.
I spent the past couple of days out in the country. My wife grew up (through most of her latter, formative years) in a town called Drain. Yes, like the drain in your shower, only with a bigger population. (Though not by much…)

Her grandparents still live there, on [the Beloved] Hardscrabble Road where I’ve had the chance to listen and soak in many stories and cups of coffee.
Their garden, unlike ours, had produced copious amounts of tomatoes.

I thought, “What the heck…let’s give it a shot!” Or at least I thought in my head..”Let’s make tomato gravy!”
It was time to move on from my fear of the tangy-sweet red stuff.

If I could swim in tomato gravy, I would. Okay, not really.

So, I googled a few recipes and consolidated them into something I thought seemed good.

Most of them said to use bacon grease, but unless you’re a nerd like me and save your bacon grease from time to time, butter would work just fine.

And it did.

Wowza, it was so, so good.

If you’re growing tomatoes, you’re probably in the middle of a crisis as to what to do with them all. Unless you’re canning or drying, it can be kind of difficult to eat them with everything. This is also when you find bags of tomatoes on your doorstep from neighbors and strangers as they try to lighten their tomato bearing burden.

Here’s the recipe:

If you’re cooking tomatoes, it’s always good to remove the seeds and skins. There’s a super easy way to do this, so don’t freak out.

Bring some water to the boil — enough to fit in however many tomatoes you need [and in this recipe you need about four medium sized tomatoes]. Have a bowl of cool water ready to shock them after they come out of the hot water.
Before dropping the tomatoes into the boiling water, take a small knife and cut out the top stem. This will make them easier to peel as well.

Once your tomatoes are dropped in, leave them alone for about 15 seconds, or until you start to see the sides peel back a little. Take them out with a slotted spoon and let them cool in the cold water to stop the cooking and to help release the skins. From there, it’s easy to take them off.

Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the watery juices and seeds.

Remember when I was talking about bacon fat? Well, that would be awesome. But you don’t have to use it. Butter works just fine. Warm up about 3-4 Tbsp of butter — once that is sizzling, add about 3 Tbsp of flour to start making a roux — uh huh! Remember all that talk about roux!?
Cook until the foam subsides and the roux starts to brown a bit. Add the chopped tomatoes and about 1 1/2 cups of water. Carefully season with salt and pepper (to taste). I added a pinch or two of dried thyme, which really made the gravy pop. Let it reduce a bit, stirring every couple of minutes until you get the right consistency. Taste and serve!

Ridiculously easy.
Amazingly tasty.
Drop it over some warm biscuits and you’ll be ‘laughin’, as Jamie Oliver says.

Oh tomatoes…

I’m so glad we’ve reconciled. We will be seeing you, old and new friend — most likely everywhere,

Josh

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