A Summer Main Course Pie That Puts Green Tomatoes Front and Center.
I love green tomatoes. They are tart and almost astringent, but have a little of the sweet flavor of a ripe tomato. I also love tomato pie. This got me thinking about making a green tomato pie. I figured the flavor of green tomatoes would be perfect blended with a creamy cheese topping. And bacon is already a classic pairing with green tomatoes, so I couldn’t see any reason it wouldn’t be great in this pie, too.
I made my pie crust, fitted it into the pie dish and put it in the fridge to chill while I got to work on the filling. I cored, sliced and salted the green tomatoes and set them aside on paper towels to drain. I fried up 3/4 of a pound of chopped bacon, adding some sliced scallions during the last few minutes, removed the bacon from the pan, and drained all the fat out of the skillet, but left behind a tablespoon.
Then I added panko to the hot skillet, let it cook until it started turning golden, added finely grated parmesan to the pan and continued tossing and cooking it until the cheese was crisp. I couldn’t help but think these crispy crumbs would be delicious on top of the finished pie.
While mayonnaise is commonly used in tomato pies, I decided to use crème fraîche in the filling because I think it’s so much creamier and a lot less greasy than mayonnaise. I’ve mentioned it many times, but it’s worth noting how easy it is to make your own crème fraîche by stirring together 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Cover it loosely and let sit at room temperature for anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, depending on your specific products and the temperature of your home, until it is thickened and tangy.
Along with the crème fraîche, I stirred in an egg, a tablespoon of flour, plenty of aged cheddar cheese, salt, and some gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes). I made sure it was strongly seasoned, as this will be the major flavor component in the pie.
I sprinkled the bottom of the chilled pie crust with a mixture of 1 teaspoon flour and 1 teaspoon sugar. This is a tip I got from P.J. Hamel at King Arthur Baking. It’s commonly used in the bottom of juicy fruit pies, in order to keep the bottom crust from getting soggy. I figured it was worth a try here, seeing as I knew the green tomatoes would exude juice. Then it was simply a matter of layering in the tomatoes and bacon, topping them with the creamy cheese mixture, and adding a final top layer of tomatoes. This needs plenty of time in the oven in order for the crust to fully cook and for the tomatoes to soften. An hour and a half at 350° did the trick. After letting it cool for about 20 minutes, I sprinkled on the crisp panko/parmesan crumbs and snipped fresh chives.
Was it as good as I’d hoped? Yep, it was. The flavors were all well balanced. The tart tomatoes, salty bacon, and funky cheddar made for one delicious pie. Those crispy crumbs on top were really icing on the cake. This pie tastes decadent and down home at the same time. Simply delicious!