One of the perqs of frequently being on farms is getting to photograph incredibly beautiful food in progress. My recent visit to One Leaf Farm in Carnation, was no exception. I got to tour her tomato tunnel of 800 tomato plants and then as incredibly kind gesture, Rand - the female farmer behind the scenes at One Leaf - gifted me with two pounds of gorgeous heirloom pink tomatoes. I knew immediately that I wanted to preserve these for a taste of summer for a future bleary winter day.
Tomato Jam came immediately to mind, and so I began to search recipes, and search, and after reading probably a dozen - I came to the conclusion that none of the flavor profiles suited what I was craving. I was hoping for smoky, with a touch of the Basque region to influence the flavors and none suited the bill. So I decided to forgo all the recipes and just proceed by instinct and taste along the way.
I decided to kick off the smoky by roasting the tomatoes till they were close to charring. While they were in the oven I started to pull things out of my pantry. First thing that I grabbed was the Piment d'Espelette - it's a chile that is grown in the basque region. I picked up my precious jar on our recent trip to France. Next, chili flakes, paprika flakes, smoked salt and brown sugar.
Once the tomatoes were as dark as I dared, I dumped them into a pot, skins and all, and added -- and this where I start to experiment and I hope you will too -- about a 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and then a 1/2 teaspoon of each of the above. Now if you're opposed to skins, remove them after roasting. I turned the stove on and let it simmer away for about half and hour checking every 10 min to give it the sniff and taste test, and see if it was thickening. About 30-40 minutes in I decided to use a wooden spoon to mash the remaining chunks, then add a sprinkle more of this and that to suit my craving for that spicy, sweet and smoky -- but not bbq sauce. I let it continue to cook till it was as thick as I wanted. Something between a jam and a marinara.
The result was exactly as I hoped and a reminder that recipes are only just experiments that other folks took the time to write down!
I hope you have great success with your experiment as well! Mine is great with roast chicken, by the way!
This is the Piment d'Espelette that I used in the tomato jam. I learned in France that the AOC is the certification that it is grown in the region and is pure. This is an affiliate link and I receive a small percentage of sales. In place of this you could use smoked paprika, or whatever it is that you crave!