25 September 2010

Tomates confites

It's strange to have all these ripe tomatoes so late in September, but that's what we have this year. Summer was late, and now autumn seems to have arrived early in the Loire Valley.

Yesterday, I made « tomates confites ». That's hard to translate, and the best I have come up with is "slow-roasted tomatoes." I blogged about them back in August 2009, and here's a link to that post.

A mix of red and yellow tomatoes trimmed,
seeded, and seasoned for slow roasting


The verb confire describes a key concept in French cooking. You probably know what confiture is — it's jam, or what we call "preserves" of fruit. That's the same term. There are also fruits confits — candied fruit. And then there's confit de canard — "preserved" or slow-cooked duck. It's very common on French restaurant menus these days, and is a staple of the traditional diet in southwestern France. All of these foods have one thing in common: slow cooking.

Set the tomato wedges on a baking sheet, leaving space
between them so that they can dry out as they roast.


Confire means to preserve a food product by slow cooking either in sugar or in fat. When you make tomates confites, you cook the tomatoes slowly not in sugar but in olive oil. Actually, there is some sugar in the mix, along with salt, pepper, and thyme so some other herb. The preserving agent, though, is oil, and low heat. The sugar just emphasizes the tomatoes' natural sweetness, and it's optional.

Make a lot of them. They go fast.
These are ready to go into the oven for three hours.

Take good ripe tomatoes and cut them into wedges. Peel them first, if you want to. Cut out the cores. Using your fingers, a knife, or a spoon, remove the seeds, juice, and pulp from the wedges, leaving just the firm flesh. Save the pulp, juice, and seeds, which you can add to a tomato sauce later.

Put the tomato wedges in a big bowl and season them fairly generously with salt and pepper. Add a good pinch of dried thyme or some other herb, and a good pinch of sugar. Stir the tomatoes around so they are evenly seasoned, and them pour some olive oil over them. Stir them again so they are coated in the oil.

Slow-roasted wedges of yellow tomato are almost candied,
but with very little added sugar.

Place the wedges on a baking sheet — on a silicone pad or parchment paper, so they won't stick — and put the pan in a slow oven for 2½ to 3 hours. I "roast" them at 90 to 95 ºC — that's between 190 and 200 ºF. The tomato liquid slowly evaporates, the oil and seasonings penetrate into the tomato flesh. You end up with little sweet morsels that you can eat almost like candy.

Tomates confites are naturally sweet and succulent.

Tomatoes confites can be served as a side dish, in a salad, as a kind of sauce for pasta, or — the way I like them — on little slices of bread or toast spread with soft, fresh goat cheese — a Selles-sur Cher cheese, for example — or Philadephia-style cream cheese. Make a lot of them, because they go fast. You can keep them in the refrigerator for a few days, by the way.

8 comments:

  1. I also have masses of tomatoes still so this is another recipe that is appreciated. Diane

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  2. I really need to get me an oven - I am addicted to these...!

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  3. I love any kind of slow roasted vegetables. I will try this in winter when it is cold and can leave the oven on for hours.
    Thanks Ken!

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  4. Oh my heavens... that last little bit about spreading some wonderful goat cheese on toast and then adding the tomates confites.... it has my mouth watering.

    Ken, I'm going to put a link to this post on my "Cuisine" page for my students, and I'm going to have them read this, so that they can understand that so-often-used term confit(e). I didn't really know how to describe it (or even exactly what it meant), myself... nor did I think of the link to the term confiture. Thanks for yet another lesson!

    Judy

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  5. I made something like this yesterday, with about 10# of tomatoes from our garden. So we all had the same lunch yesterday. We're looking forward to the leftovers too,

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  6. We make these all the time. We simply call them "oven dried tomatoes" but I like "tomates confites" better....now I can impress my friends with not only delicious tomatoes, but ones with a more sophisticated french name.

    By the way, even when I can only get awful supermarket tomatoes, roasting them in this way greatly improves the flavor.

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  7. Ken, I've found through experience that the best time to read your blog is AFTER Pauline and I have eaten... have you thought of publishing a recipe book based on your blog... using the disgustingly appetizing photos you illustrate it with?
    We use "Greene on Greens" for a lot of seasonal recipes... a superb American tome with US style text book margins to write "alterations" and found tweaks in.

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  8. I've done something similar to make oven-dried tomatoes. They can be packed in olive oil to keep for a time. But I hadn't thought of them with toast and chevre--ambrosia.

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