It’s tomato season! Boy, do we have a great technique for you to try on your charcoal grill as well as a tasty recipe to make- wood fired stuffed tomato.
Bring 8 large tomatoes in from the garden or purchased at the fresh market, clean out the charcoal grill, fire pit, or fireplace, and give a few hours to a great cooking experience and exceptionally flavorful recipe.
Lighting a Fire for Hot Embers
Coal cooking can be a very easy method of cooking foods once you know how to make and manage the fire. First, I am going to use only hardwood for my fire as I want to produce as much flavor as I can into the cooking area. For tomatoes, I am using Beech hardwood in the SmokinLicious® Single Filet Wood chunk. Once lit, I let the wood burn down to hot embers before even thinking about cooking. Oh, and the lid stays off my grill — I’m using a kettle from Stok®, while the wood burns down. I wait until the coal bed shows gray embers on top with hot red spots on the bottom. I’ve used a mesh screen in the charcoal area, to keep all my coals from ending up in the ash collection area, since many will get to be quite small.
Preparing the Tomatoes for Hot Coals
With our tomatoes washed, it’s time to prepare them for the coals. First, I cut about ¼ of the way around the top. I’ll be cooking both the body of the tomato as well as the tops. Next, I add a high heat roasting rack to my raked coals. Try to make the coal bed as even as possible to keep the tomatoes balanced. First cooking time will be about 12 minutes before any turning needs to be done. You will see bubbling juices in the tomatoes which will makes these red beauties even more flavorful.
Coal Firing to Unbelievable Flavor
After placing the tomatoes on the coal rack and leaving for about 12 minutes, it’s time to turn them. You’ll see how the outer skin will start to flake. When I get some cooking time on the entire tomato, I separate the cut top from the body and coal roast the tops separately to get a nice char. Once cooked through, which takes a total time of about 22 minutes, I remove the tomatoes to a cooling rack. Once cooled enough to handle, it’s time to take all the wood fired pulp out of each tomato leaving the charred skins as the base to my wood fired stuffed tomato recipe.
Fresh Recipe Ingredients
With our fresh tomatoes coal fired over hardwood, it’s time to start on our recipe. First, we need to remove all the tomato pulp from the charred tomatoes. You can do this with a spoon or the way I like to do it — with my fingers. Place the pulp only in a blender keeping as much of the shell of the tomato as possible for our base in the roasting pan. Then blend until a puree is formed. Meanwhile gather the other ingredients needed to make wood fired stuffed tomatoes:
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup brown rice
- 8 medium to large tomatoes
- 2 anchovy fillets mashed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced (feel free to use hot pepper as well)
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
- Fresh ground pepper
Herb Rice Mixture & Anchovy Butter
This recipe allows you to use any rice you prefer. I like the texture of brown rice for this dish. As you cook the rice according to the package directions, you can start on the flavor mixture for the cooked rice. First, combine the 2 anchovy filets with the 2 tablespoons softened butter. I use a mortar and pestle. This will be added to the hot rice as soon as it is cooked. In a bowl, combine the tomato puree, diced pepper, parsley, basil, Parmesan cheese, and fresh ground pepper. Mix until just combined.
With all the ingredients combined, it’s time to put it all together. First, to our anchovy butter, brown rice, I add the tomato puree mixture combining well. Taking the tomato shells, I place them in a roasting pan that has been coated with oil. Next, comes the rice mixture, layering it in making sure all the tomatoes are covered. Last, top the rice mixture with the coal fired tomato tops. Now this pan is ready for a 350°F oven to bake for about 30 minutes.
Preserve the Flavors
After cooking our beautiful tomatoes over hot coals made from 100% beech hardwood, we removed the wood flavored pulp and produced a tomato puree. To that, we added Parmesan, basil, parsley, red pepper, and fresh ground pepper. Infusing anchovy butter into hot brown rice, we pour the tomato puree into the rice. Our wood fired stuffed tomato is made by layering the tomato shells in a roasting pan, then topping with the tomato puree-rice mixture, and the charred tomato tops. Then bake for 30 minutes in a 350°F oven, this is the perfect dish to serve with rustic bread. Stock up on your coal fired tomatoes — they can well — so you can enjoy your take on this wood fired stuffed tomatoes.
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