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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Think Like A Chef - Roasted Tomatoes And Garlic

A few years ago, before more responsibility at work coupled with the end of online poker, I wasn’t too bad a poker player.  I mean, I was never going to win The World Series of Poker or anything, but I was good enough to make it into the WPT tournament at Foxwoods one year. 

One of my big failings as a poker player was that I often didn’t listen to my gut.  Countless times in my short poker career, I knew my pocket tens were beat when someone would put me all in, yet I couldn’t stop myself from pulling the trigger, thus losing my chips and my hopes of winning the tournament.

And I believe this is what kept me from making a completely successful dish in the latest recipe in Tom Colicciho’s book “Think Like A Chef.”

The recipe is roasted tomatoes and garlic.  Remember, the idea of this entire chapter is to start with a couple of ingredients, and make multiple dishes with the same ingredients.  This recipe is supposed to leave me with three distinct parts.  Roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and roasted tomato juice.

I bought twenty beautiful tomatoes from Whole Foods. 

I removed the stems and cored them, while the oven was preheating to 350 degrees.  As I’ve said before, I don’t have great knife skills so it took me a while to get the technique down, but the latter half looked pretty good.  Then I cut them in half and placed them in a large bowl with garlic peeled from two full heads of garlic, and ½ cup of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Next, I placed the tomato halves on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, cut side down.  Ok, makes sense so far.

The next direction was…”pour any olive oil left in the bowl over them.”

Now…I’m thinking, “Well wait a minute.  If I do that, won’t the juices mix with the olive oil?  What if instead of doing that, I put the rack on the sheets, don’t pour the olive oil on the tomatoes, so the juice I have is free and clear of the olive oil?”

I then proceeded to pour the olive oil on top of the tomatoes.

Twenty minutes in, I peeled the tomatoes, and poured the tomato juice off into a bowl...which was full of olive oil.  That can’t be right.  So I poured it out, and continued the roasting process.  Not a heck of a lot of juice was left, and what was there had olive oil in it.

So at the end of the day, what did I have other than a great smelling house?

Roasted tomatoes?  Check!

Roasted garlic?  Check!

Roasted tomato juice?  Not so much.

What could I have done differently?

Well, I could have gone with my original idea of the resting rack.  Or I could have reserved the juices, put it in the fridge, let the oil rise to the top and removed it.  Not sure if that would work, but it’s a possibility.

So, was it completely successful?  No.

But two out of three ain’t bad.  (Sorry for the short advertisement...)

1 comment:

  1. Poker player, huh? Hmmm...
    Well, as you said---two out of three ain't bad on the dish. Had you rendered more juice, what would you have done with that? I read on your Twitter feed about a lasagna (and remember you mentioning it in your blog very briefly). Would like to hear more about that---both the "failure" (hey..there are no "fails" in the kitchen...just experiences to learn from) as well as the success on that one. I had mentioned doing a veg lasagna where instead of actual noodles, that you use very thinly sliced eggplant for your layering. I still swear by it, and think you should give it a try.
    Well, know when to fold 'em and when to hold 'em...and Keep on cooking!