Ripe tomatoes, stuffed with a savory blend of smothered tomato, onions and peppers flavored with bacon and Louisiana herbs, held together with some breadcrumbs.
Servings: 6 Servings
- 9 ripe tomatoes in all
- 5 slices bacon
- 1 ½ cups yellow onion chopped fine
- ½ cup bell pepper chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons garlic chopped fine
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon dry basil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs plus some for the topping
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 8 ounces smoked ham chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup Romano cheese grated plus some for the topping
Slice off the stem end of 6 tomatoes. Using a melon baller, scoop out the pulp. Set the pulp aside. This should yield between ¾ and 1 quart of pulp.
Peel (parboil method) and chop the remaining 3 tomatoes. This should yield an additional ¾ quart of pulp.
Place the hollowed-out tomatoes upside down on a paper towel or a cooling rack.
Place all of the tomato pulp in a strainer or colander over a bowl to drain. Reserve the drained liquid.
Chop the yellow onions, bell peppers and garlic very fine.
Slice the bacon in half lengthwise.
Chop the ham very fine-if using.
Measure all other ingredients and set aside.
Make the stuffing
Starting in a cold Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp (about 8 to 10 minutes), then remove from the Dutch oven and reserve.
Saute onions in bacon grease until clear, about 5 minutes.
Add the green peppers, tomato pulp (don’t add the liquid that has drained), thyme, garlic, Worcestershire, sugar (if using), and kosher salt and black pepper; mix well.
Increase the heat to a heavy simmer, then reduce heat and simmer slowly for 40 to 45 minutes while the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes soften.
During this time, stir often. Leave the Dutch oven partially covered and uncover completely for the last 10 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and add more if needed.
Crumble the bacon and add back to tomatoes (reserve about 6 pieces to place on top).
Add the bread crumbs and the romano cheese (if using). Mix well.
Start with about ½ cup of bread crumbs and mix it and the romano cheese (if using) before adding more. Add more until you get the consistency you want, which should be damp and firm like a stuffing.
Simmer the mixture on low for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
Once it has reached the consistency you want, remove from the heat, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Stuff and Bake the Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare a 9” X 12” glass baking dish by spraying with cooking spray or applying a light coat of oil.
Use a paper towel to dry any liquid that has accumulated inside the tomato shells.
Fill each tomato shell with stuffing, packing down with a spoon to fill all the voids.
Place the stuffed tomatoes in the 9” X 12” glass baking dish. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top of each tomato. [Optional topping-combine 1 tablespoon each of breadcrumbs and Romano cheese; sprinkle on top of each tomato].
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and drizzle a little on top of each tomato.
Place a small piece of bacon on top of each tomato.
Place the baking dish into a 325-degree Fahrenheit preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Start the bacon in a cold pan to render as much bacon grease as possible. A cold pan will slowly fry the bacon maximizing the rendering by evenly cooking the entire piece of bacon.
Leftover stuffed tomatoes will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge if stored in an airtight container. This makes them a great make-ahead treat. Wrap the tomatoes tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil or place in a ziplock bag or airtight container.
To reheat, cover the tomatoes in aluminum foil and place them in a 350 degree Fahrenheit preheated oven. Let them cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, then unwrap and let the top get crispy. You can also reheat them in a microwave-it's quicker but the tops won’t be as crispy.
Freeze? Tomatoes have such a high water content that freezing stuffed tomatoes is not really a good idea. The tomatoes will turn soggy when defrosted, which may be fine for sauces or as an ingredient, but not as a vessel for stuffing. One idea would be to freeze the stuffing, then when you are ready to serve, scoop out the center of some fresh tomatoes, stuff them and bake as directed.
The best tomatoes for this recipe are very ripe and large, thick-walled tomatoes like beefsteak or Creole tomatoes.
Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 1391mg | Potassium: 746mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 2057IU | Vitamin C: 46mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 3mg
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