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A Chef’s Journey into Pittsburgh’s Tomato Pie: Not Just a Pie, It’s a Love Letter to Tomatoes

Ah, the Tomato Pie—a Pittsburgh staple that elevates the humble tomato into a gastronomic spectacle. But my friends, this isn’t just about throwing tomatoes into a pie crust. It’s an opera in which each ingredient plays a pivotal role. The tomatoes are the star divas, the herbs are the supporting cast, and the crust is the grand stage. So, don your aprons; it’s time to conduct this culinary symphony.

The Protagonists and Supporting Cast

  • 3 pounds of varied medium to large tomatoes, singing in soprano
  • 1 pre-baked artisanal pie crust, the grand stage
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, sprinkled with love
  • ½ cup bacon, crumbled to perfection
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped and sautéed until melodious
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced for harmony
  • 6 ounces of sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ cup of quality mayonnaise (Dukes, if you’re a purist)
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped with zeal
  • ¼ cup chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, for that touch of drama
  • 1 large egg, the binding agent

The Grand Performance

  1. Preliminary Measures: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Slice your tomatoes into ½-inch discs. Take seven or eight “diva” slices, place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and salt them lightly with ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover with another layer of paper towels and set aside—these will be the stars of your finale.
  2. The Chorus: Lay the remaining tomato slices on a wire rack over a large baking sheet. Lightly salt with ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast these in your preheated oven for about 40 to 45 minutes until they’re wilted but poetic. Allow them to cool, contemplating their impending glory.
  3. The Conductor’s Mix: In a bowl fit for a maestro, combine your sharp Cheddar, quality mayonnaise, freshly-chopped basil, and chives. Add the Dijon mustard and your egg. Season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and as much pepper as your heart desires. Now, introduce the sautéed shallots and crumbled bacon into this rich ensemble.
  4. The First Act: On your pre-baked artisanal pie crust, spread one-third of your cheese mixture as the base. Layer half of your roasted tomatoes, slightly overlapping, to create a visually stunning scene.
  5. The Second Act: Lay another third of your cheese mixture over the tomatoes, setting the stage for the remaining roasted tomatoes to join the act.
  6. The Grand Finale: Place your reserved fresh tomato slices on top, pressing them gently into the performance. Protect the edges of your pie with aluminum foil like a shield guarding a treasure.
  7. Curtains: Bake in your preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling reaches a climactic solidity. Then, transfer the pie to a wire rack and let it sit for an hour, as it contemplates its own brilliance.

And there you have it, a Tomato Pie that’s not just food, but a culinary performance where every ingredient is a star. Enjoy this Pittsburgh culinary masterpiece; it’s worthy of a standing ovation.

For more gastronomic compositions, stay tuned.

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