Paulette was my grandmother’s cook when I was little. She had a terrible attitude but she knew how to keep a kitchen running and had the best traditional recipes. The queen of leftovers! I trust you know me quite well by now: I have a terrible memory! I rarely remember people’s names. I do not remember what I did this morning. I do not even remember my first kiss. But believe me, I do remember Paulette’s cuisine.
Ahhhh Paulette’s stuffed tomatoes. Nothing to do with the boiled crap they serve with steak (and a nasty attitude) in Paris restaurants. I am talking about delicious, juicy, caramelized balls of pure French heaven!!!
Paulette has long been out of the picture (she retired in the early 80s), and the only person who could have given me her recipe was my grandmother. Only my dear grandmother died very young (101) in 2009 and I never got the recipe. I thought she’d be around for at least 10 more years and didn’t bother to ask for it.
But my dear friends, I have great news! After many failed experiments, I finally managed to develop a recipe that would have made Paulette proud!
For 14 beautiful stuffed tomatoes (2-3 per person), you will need:
- 18 big, meaty tomatoes. Yes, 18 tomatoes for 14 stuffed tomatoes. You’ll see why below. And by the way: stuffed tomatoes are a summer dish. The quality of the result, as always, depends on the quality of the produce!
- 2 pounds of sausage stuffing seasoned by your butcher.
- 1 small fistful of fresh persillade (I put 2 cloves garlic for 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley)
- 1 big glass of olive oil
- A small glass of water
- Salt and black pepper
- Stale bread (the equivalent of three big fists worth). The bread should be heavy and airy and the crust taken out. Bad bread has a tendency to turn into a mush when soaked in milk
- 1/8 of a gallon of milk (3 glasses?)
- 2 eggs
- Cut 4 of your 18 tomatoes into pieces and place them in a baking dish. Pour a small glass of olive oil and a bit of salt. Put in the oven and let the tomatoes caramelize (turn to dark red/brown color) at 400°F (about 2 hours). Stir every half hour after the first hour.
- Make a hole in each of the remaining tomatoes and throw away all of the inside
- Dip the bread in the milk and add it to the sausage meat with all the other ingredients, including the caramelized tomatoes cut into small pieces
- Fill each tomato with stuffing. Make sure some of it comes out of the tomato. Broiled stuffing gives an even stronger flavor to the dish
- Put a little water and olive oil in the dish and bake at 400°F for at least 1 hour
Enjoy and have a drink in Paulette’s honor!
Below is a picture of the rude grandmother who forgot to give me Paulette’s recipes before she passed :0)