Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tomato Pie

Half eaten tomato pie.  Yum.
I've manage to come down with a long head cold that does not want to depart from my body, and I can only take so much chicken soup before I start upon an existential and metaphysical quest trying to answer the question: "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Result: real food.  I decided to make tomato pie.  Don't think of an apple pie where the apple filling is replaced with a tomato filing.  Think 'pie' as in 'pizza pie.'  Tomato pie is a dish I discovered while living in Delaware.  According to one local pizza kitchen, it was considered poor people food for those times when mama could not afford cheese, meat, or other vegetables.  The outcome from such a lack of income is a delicious pizza-like dish with a kicked up red sauce. 

Sadly, when I returned to the South, I could find no pizza places that made such a dish or even heard of such a dish.  Most pizzerias  I'd ask about tomato pie would give me a face of disgust till I described it to them.  Long story short, I experimented in my kitchen till I figured out a good recipie for tomato pie. 

So in my sickly days of winter, I share with everyone my recipe for tomato pie, which according to my friend from New York who has tried this, "Ahh, it's like grandma used to make."  I took that as a complement; but I don't know, maybe his grandma was a bad cook, and he was really expressing his dislike.


1 ~26 oz can of tomato sauce
4 Tbls of minced garlic
4 Tbls of Italian seasoning
2oz Whiskey (I prefer Jack Daniels and it has a nice smokey/woodsy flavor)
Pizza dough (I use the canned stuff from the cooler section in the grocery store)


1.  Empty tomato sauce into a sauce pan, don't forget to rinse out the jar/can with a little water in order to get all the sauce from the jar/can.
2.  Add the garlic and seasoning.
3.  Add whiskey when you are about 30 min from completion.

The trick for the sauce it to make it thick.  Don't think pasta sauce thick.  Think somewhere between tomato paste and pasta sauce.  Thin enough to spread on the dough but think enough that there is almost no sauce running.  This is important because you actually want the sauce to stay on the dough, after all the sauce is the main topping.  I can't say for certain how long the sauce needs to be cooked.  Cooking time depends on how much water is in the sauce. 

If you are fancy, you can make your own dough.  If you aren't too fancy, you can use a pizza dough mix.  If you are in a hurry or find the pre-made dough from a can acceptable, go for it.  For this recipe, I usually use the dough in a can for the sake of ease.  For this kind of pie, the dough should not be thin and crispy.  So aim at making your dough 1/2-3/4 an inch.  If you use the can dough, this is simple just use a 15x11 pan and press it out to fit the pan.

You want to pile the sauce on.  Don't be shy about how much you use.  The goal is to not see any of the dough through the sauce.  If you see dough, add more sauce.  This is not like regular pizza, in which you can use 1/2 cup of sauce for an entire pizza.  You want to use almost all the sauce you make (you'll likely end up with about 3 cups).

1.  Set oven to 425 degrees F.  
2.  Stick it in the oven (feel free to sprinkle a little more Italian seasoning on the top to get a great aroma in the kitchen). 
3.  Bake about 10-13 min, or until dough browns a bit.

Unlike pizza, which is served hot, tomato pie is served about room temperature.  So let it cool before eating. 

This makes a great appetizer.

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