My kitchen is overflowing with tomatoes, a 'problem' I truly love and appreciate! I'm making plans for tomato chutney and tomato jam and homemade ketchup. Canning projects are being penciled in and mason jars are collecting on my countertop. While BLTs and caprese salads abound, I've also got the taste for something different, something a little off the usual tomato path. Enter Jamie Oliver's Tomato Consommé from his excellent book, Jamie at Home.
I took this to a party last night--a 'salad party' where the host had instructed the guests to bring salads. The weather was unusually warm for August in San Francisco, so their request is well-timed. I reckon that this dish is basically a tomato salad that's been pureed and strained, so it fits the bill.
I tinkered with Jamie's recipe a little, mostly because of what was available and because I was serving more people. But basically this is his concoction and it's a winner. I plan on serving it with a fresh sweet corn salad on the side and, if I get around to it, a little flaky biscuit.
Jamie Oliver's Tomato Consommé
1 large bunch of fresh basil, washed and dried
6 pounds of summer-ripe tomatoes
5 teaspoons prepared horseradish (not creamed)
1 smallish clove of garlic, peeled
3/4 cup vodka
3 T sherry vinegar
1 (small!) slice of beet (for color)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
You will also need some cheesecloth or a very clean tea towel.
Pick several smaller leaves from the basil and set them aside. Crush the remaining basil, stems and all, into a large bowl. Halve or quarter the tomatoes and add to the basil, along with the horseradish, garlic, vinegar, vodka, beet and S&P.
I used my stick blender at this point, which was really handy as I could puree up the veg right there in the bowl. If you only have a conventional blender or a food processor, you may have to do this in batches. Taste and add more seasonings. Jamie recommends leaning a little heavier on the horseradish and I agree.
Line a large bowl with double layers of the cheesecloth (or the tea towel) and gently pour the tomato pulp into it. Here Jamie advises you to have a butcher's hook and a cool pantry on hand. I have neither (how about you?), so I improvised in this way:
Place the bowl in your sink. Gather together the corners of the cloth with and lift up. Carefully tie the cloth around your faucet so that the bag hangs well above the bowl and allows for the contents to drip through. This worked for me because I have a deep sink and a high faucet. You may have to improvise in your own way.
It will take at least 5 to 7 hours for all the juice to drip through. Since Jamie recommends that this go into a cool pantry or refrigerator (not sure how to pull that off without some major shifting), I did this right before bed and left in in the sink. In San Francisco, the nights are cool enough that it wasn't a problem.
The next morning I gave the cheesecloth bag a gentle squeeze and carefully discarded it. I tasted the remaining liquid for seasonings (it needed a little salt and vinegar) and poured it into a smaller container and popped it into the refrigerator until chilled.
For serving, I poured the consommé into little glasses and floated some very good olive oil and the basil leaves on top. So delicious and refreshing! And no cooking over a hot stove, either.
PS I think my slice of beet was too large (about 1/2 inch), which brought a little too much of that beety/earthy flavor to the consommé. It was still delicious, but I think the point of this recipe is to highlight the taste of the tomato. So be careful with the beet, or leave it out all together.