Cooking from the TV

Tomato and Sausage Bake

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Tomato and Sausage Bake Adapted from Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake, from the Food Network show JAMIE AT HOME by Jamie Oliver. The show is based on the book of the same name.When I got home from the Farmers Market on Saturday, Carol had Jamie Oliver’s show, Jamie at Home, on the kitchen TV. He was doing a show on tomatoes. What luck, I had tomatoes in my bag. Jamie’s recipes are always easy and usually good, especially the ones from this show.I stopped and took notes, even as C was saying, “You can get the recipe on the internet.” When the show was over, I went to the Food Network website, found the “Tomatoes” show and copied the recipes to a Word document. Then I checked my notes against the recipes. As usual, there were differences.Warning: When you see something interesting on a food TV show — take notes. You can always look up the recipe on the internet, but sometimes it’s a similar recipe, not what you saw. Also, on TV you can see techniques that aren’t noted in the recipe.In this case, for example:

Recipe — cherry tomatoes, TV — he did it with whole tomatoes of varying sizes and colors. Recipe — 375 ° oven, TV — he cooked in an outdoor, wood fired brick oven. Now he wouldn’t write a recipe for an outdoor, wood fired brick oven, but the temperature in that oven is way higher than 375. Recipe — No bacon or salt pork. TV — he started with bacon or salt pork in the pan and rendered the fat, then took out the bacon and flavored the fat with herbs. Recipe — Chopped garlic. TV — Unpeeled garlic cloves. Recipe — He put everything in the pan at once and popped it in the oven. TV — He put the tomatoes in first to blister the skin, took the pan out and pulled the skins off. Then added the sausages and back in the oven.On TV, he did some “extra dishes” with the leftover sauce. The recipe on the internet said, “Our agreement with the producers of “Jamie at Home” only permit us to make 2 recipes per episode available online. Food Network regrets the inconvenience to our viewers and foodnetwork.com users”

Anyway, you get the drift. Take notes.

I also had to make adjustments in quantities, since he used almost five pounds of tomatoes, and I was cooking for two in a countertop convection oven. (That oven is so easy and convenient, heats quickly, and we don’t have to bother with the big gas oven.)All that said, here’s what I did, using the recipe and my notes as a guide:
1. Picked a pan that would fit the countertop convection oven and preheated the oven to 375 °F
2. Filled the pan with tomatoes I had on hand, 5 Early Girls and 2 Green Zebras. If I didn’t have enough, I would have gone out for more, but what I had was just right.
3. Put the tomatoes aside and put thick bacon slices in the pan. (Marin Sun Farms bacon, cut from a slab.) I put the pan in the oven to render the fat. That sizzled nicely and took about 5 minutes until the fat was rendered and the bacon nicely browned.
4. Drained the bacon on paper towels and put 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of rosemary and a good pinch of dried oregano in the fat. I stirred that around a bit with a wooden spoon. Put the tomatoes, stem side down in the pan, showered them with salt and pepper, and put the pan back in the oven.
5. After about 5 minutes, I took the pan out and slit a tomato skin, not ready to peel. Suspecting the oven wasn’t hot enough, I changed the temperature to 400 and turned the convection fan on. Pan back in the oven. After another 4 minutes or so, the tomato skins were nice and blistery. I took the pan out of the oven and commenced peeling. This isn’t easy. The tomatoes were hot and slippery and the skins weren’t loose on the stem end. I did what I could and didn’t worry about it.

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ready to bake

6. I slid the reserved bacon slices down under the tomatoes and tucked 3 Italian sausages — 2 sweet, 1 hot — between the tomatoes, making sure they were exposed enough to brown. Tucked 4 unpeeled garlic cloves in amongst the tomatoes. I put the pan in the oven, set the timer for 30 minutes and went and watched the Olympics.

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pan out of the oven

7. When the timer went off, I checked, sausages brown, I took their temperature: 160 °F. Good. I let it rest while I cut a piece of green onion focaccia to fit two plates. I sliced roasted beets and a Mediterranean cucumber, arranged on another two plates and drizzled with my best olive oil and Champagne vinegar.

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beet and cucumber salad

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focaccia

I plated the tomatoes, bacon and sausage over the focaccia, and opened a bottle of 2005 Mahoney Vinyards Las Brisas Nebbiolo (that’s a $15 wine that is perfect for this dish, or a steak if you have one). The tomatoes were steaming and chunky, the skins easy to pick out, but they weren’t disagreeable to eat. The herbs were easy to pick out, as well, and when I came across a garlic clove, I just squeezed it into the mix. Careful, don’t burn the roof of your mouth with the tomatoes.

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Who-ee, that was good!

For lunch the next day, I warmed a leftover (LO) sausage link and the LO juices and served them over LO focaccia scraps.

YUM all over again.

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