Introduction: Fire Roasted Tomatoes (al Dente)

I'm making a roasted veggie salad for a party tonight, and I didn't know what to do with the tomatoes, so I devised a plan to fire roast them, with a little smoke. Since they were to be used in a salad (more like bruschetta), I did not want to taint they texture too much, so I just barely roasted them.

Step 1: Char-Coal!! FIRE FIRE, Hehe, FIRE!

I've never owned a gas grill, and frankly never want to. Charcoal takes a bit more skill, and provides with a much better, campfire, flavor. Recently I've been using the 'real wood' charcoal instead of the briquettes. Remember!!! Use as little lighter fluid as possible, and fan the embers to get it burning faster.

Let the charcoal burn up for at least 30 minutes so there is no flavor from the fluids left, and to maximize the heat.

Step 2: Prep the Tomatoes, and Hydrate Your Wood.

Score the BOTTOM of the tomatoes with a knife by slicing 2 directions, like an X. This will help you to remove the skins after it's all complete. I also used a skewer to poke many holes in the tomato to get maximum smoke penetration. The scoring and the holes need to be no deeper than an 1/8 of an inch.

I chose to leave the core/stem because I am going to roast them upside down and didn't want the moisture to escape. I guess you could do it either way.

Also, if you want some smokey flavor, you should get your favorite wood of choice and hydrate them in warm water for at least 20 minutes. This prevents them from just burning up. I used oak chips that are typically used for wine, but it's all I had laying around.

Step 3: Almost Time to Burn 'em Up.

When your charcoal is blazing hot, and white as shown above, it's time to put the tomatoes on. I considered dropping them right on the charcoal but then found my Veggie grill rack thing-a-ma-bob.

Place the tomatoes stem side down on your rack and cover with foil. Only cover the top as you are trying to trap the heat and smoke inside. If you cover the bottom where the grates are then you'll be doing nothing more than what you could do in the oven.

Go ahead and move the charcoals around so you have an even flat space to put the rack on.

Step 4: Time to Burn 'em Up.

Once everything is in place, strain your wood chips and throw them on the charcoals directly under where you plan on placing the rack. Put the rack on the burning embers and put the lid on.

Be sure to close all vents of your grill. You wouldn't wanna lose any of that smoke now "wood" ya. :P

Step 5: Shock and Timing

While the 'maters are on the barbie (cross-culture dialog), prepare an ice bath for shocking. Plan on using a large enough vessel to hold ALOT of ice, water, and the tomatoes. Don't forget the law of buoyancy.

As I mentioned in the intro, I'm using the tomatoes for a salad of sorts, so I only burned them up for about 10 minutes. If you would like to use the tomatoes in a coulis or soup, feel free to let them go longer. I wouldn't recommend any longer than 20-30 minutes either way though.

When your happy with how the tomatoes look / feel (yes, feel, squeeze them to see how much they've cooked) remove them from the grill and RUN RUN RUN to the ice bath. Drop all the tomatoes into the water... BECAREFUL, THEY ARE HOT. Use two forks to protect your girly hands.

Let them rest in the ice bath for 10 or 15 minutes, or until cold.

Step 6: Peel and Seed...

After the ice bath, remove the tomatoes and you should notice that the skins slide right off without a problem. Remove all the skins, and slice the tomato in 1/2 horizontally. Grab a half, and gently squeeze over a sink and the majority of seeds and pulp will fall out.

That's all folks! Do whatever you want to with your fire roasted / smoked tomatoes.

Pics from the finished salad will appear tomorrow.