Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tomato Basil Gratinée

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
This recipe is mostly tomatoes, warmed up and sharpened with a little garlic and basil, with just enough bread tossed in to sop up the juices. And some cheese on top — because, why not — oh yes, and some bacon fat!

3 tablespoons bacon fat
2 cups (1/2-inch diced) French bread, preferably a crusty baguette
16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice, about 2 1/2 pounds (use the best tomatoes you can find, beefsteak will be juicier)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional )
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the bacon fat in a large 12 inch saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned. Add the tomatoes, garlic and sugar to then pan and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the basil and remove from the heat.

Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.