Stuffed Tomatoes – Tomates Farcies A La Francaise –
We say tomates farcies, you say stuffed tomatoes.
I’ve been chatting with Christine Theze. With her husband Eric, she owns and manages La Boheme, a well known and loved French restaurant in the heart of Waterford. We have a lot in common, we both speak a funny mix of Franglais or is Frenglish and we are both passionate about the local produce prepared classically, a la Francaise. So when, we started chatting about the stuffed tomatoes our mothers used to make once a week, we both got rather enthusiastic.
A tweet featuring a photo of Christine’s stuffed tomatoes, started an avalanche of requests for the recipe and so she kindly put it in writing for you guys below. Tomates farcies are quintessial french food. All the mammies make it, all the kiddies love it. I saw the photo and saw my mam making those back home and I could smell them. As my mam has passed, it also made me very melancholic but that’s a story for another time.
Now back to that recipe for those glorious stuffed tomatoes. If you end up making them, please let Christine and myself know as we’re positive that many will adore them!
“This is a regional French dish for which there are hundreds of recipes, but this one is my mother Josette’s and personally I think it’s the best. Traditionally the recipe started with using up the leftover bits of roast from the Sunday dinner, which were mixed with any other leftover cuts of meat, bits of ham, beef etc, ground up finely and stuffed into beefsteak tomatoes and roasted. I make them with Toulouse sausages. Here is the loose recipe, if you have leftover stuffing, you can always mound it in the corner of the roasting tray and cook it along with the tomatoes, or stuff extra tomatoes if you have them.
Serves 4 with extra for the next day……..and believe me you will want leftovers.
- 6 large Beefsteak Tomatoes
- 4 Toulouse sausages – removed from their casing
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 6 large cloves of garlic – finely chopped
- A large bunch of parsley – finely chopped
- A spoon or two of olive oil
- Sea salt – this is optional – depending on how salty the sausage meat is.
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Cup Breadcrumbs – I love Panko – the dried Japanese breadcrumbs – they give the dish a soft texture.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
- Slice the tops off the tomatoes – the bit that looks like a little hat when it’s cut off and keep them aside, you will use them to top the stuffed tomatoes whilst roasting.
- Gently scoop out the insides of the tomatoes into a bowl and reserve.
- In a large frying pan, gently heat the olive oil and sweat the onion until translucent, but not colored. Add in the garlic and soften to take off the rawness.
- Turn up the heat and put the sausage meat in, breaking it up with wooden spoons to brown lightly all over.
- Add in the scooped-out tomato flesh and juice and allow to simmer gently over low heat. Sprinkle with the parsley and taste. If it needs salt, add some here and grind over the fresh black pepper. Once this takes on a homogenous texture, remove from heat and add the breadcrumbs. Mix gently. Allow to cool – or not if you are in a hurry.
- Divide the mixture among the scooped-out tomatoes, piling them higher than the rim, as this bit gets crunchy when cooking and you will all want a bit of that crunch. Top the filled tomatoes with their hats (chapeaux) and dot each one with a big dollop of butter. Place them in a large roasting tray and roast for 45 mins to an hour in the oven. If they brown too quickly, just turn down the temperature a little. You know they are ready when the meat on the top is crunchy, the juices are bubbling and the tomatoes are starting to wilt but still remain intact.
In France, stuffed tomatoes are traditionally served with white rice, but I can imagine this would also be delicious over pasta or mashed potatoes, or eaten with a spoon on its own.
Bon Appetit!! You will thank me as this recipe is delicious and once you make a large batch freezes very well too.”