Feelin’ kinda ropey today. You know, the kind of schnurffly day where your cold doesn't have the decency to get visibly gross, it just throws you under the Existential Malaise Bus and runs off down the road. I'm left on the sofa with Life Support Squid watching Foyle's War (having finally wound all the way through both eras of Miss Marple and all of Inspector Lewis--sometimes not even Lawrence Fox can cure me.)
1. I gather up all the ‘maters I’ve got. If I happen to have an assortment at the time of killin’, I throw them all in together. A few cherry and grapes added near the end of baking are quite delightful in the end product. Here I started with eight beefsteaks.
2. Set the oven to 325F. While it’s heating, cut the tomatoes in half at the equator and place cut side up in pyrex baking dishes.
4. Sprinkle with Salt, Herbs and Garlic/Shallots/Onion as you desire. In consideration of this, you will be determining the nature of the end product. Do you want a traditional Tomato/Cream of Tomato Soup, and therefore a more neutral flavor? Will you be using this as a pasta sauce and therefore desire the essence of roasted garlic and a panoply of classic Italian herbs?
>>Here I am using: Coarse Sea Salt, Shallots and Penzeys Mural of Flavor herb blend (it adds a nicely rounded herb background but nothing boldly specific). Keeps my options open for later.
>>A Word About Roasted Garlic: A more effective, and deeper, richer garlic flavor can be achieved by roasting your garlic separately. You can do this at the same time, is super simple, and instructions follow at the happy ending of the tomato story.
5. Place baking dishes in oven for 1 Hour. Your kitchen will begin to smell delicious. Check the tomatoes at this time, make sure nothing’s burning.
6. Turn oven down to 300F and bake for 40 minutes more. I like to leave them a bit juicier than some recipes have called for so I lower the heat and cut the time. There’s a ton of flavor and the shallots don’t darken as much.
7. Remove from oven and assemble the following rig:
> Steady, flat-bottomed bowl
> Food Mill
> Rubber Spatula
> Rubber Jar Opener Grippy-Thingie
8. Once assembled, place tomatoes into food mill and smoosh away. I usually do them in two batches and clean the skins out in between.
When finished, you will be left with a small pile of skins and a loooovely bowl of fresh tomato sauce ready to do your bidding:
1. I take a couple full heads of garlic, chop the tops off well down the head so plenty of each toe is open, then place each in a deep ramekin.
2. I then douse in Olive Oil, sprinkle in Kosher Salt and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
3. I stick one on each rack, pretty far back, for the entire baking time of the tomatoes. Remove at the end, allowing them to cool several minutes.
4. I take them out of the ramekins, remove any errant skins, then pour all the oil from one dish into the other and carefully, holding the bottom of the garlic head with one hand, squish the garlic out of the skin with my fingers into the dish.
You may leave it whole, I like to mash it up to use as a dip or spread, and it will incorporate beautifully into any soup or sauce, using your stick blender.