Monday, February 17, 2014

Tomato Basil Pie (from Jack Allen's Kitchen)

The Background

My favorite restaurant in Round Rock, Texas is Jack Allen's Kitchen.  Jack Gilmore is Owner and Chef, he runs the kind of restaurant that I think we all probably envision restaurants should be run.  He has a relationship with local area farmers and can frequently be seen at the area farmer's markets.  His menu is based largely off of what he finds in the markets each week, and he proudly and prominently features the local farmer in his menu.  His Sunday Brunch is a stunning collection of dishes that includes comfortable, Southern favorites such as Mama's Sunday Chicken or House Cured Ham.  It also includes local favorites such as Migas and Green Chile Pork and Eggs. 

One of the dishes you are likely to find on the table, especially in the summertime when fresh tomatoes and basil are at their peak, is his Tomato Basil Pie.  On a table that includes so many amazing dishes, it might be easy to overlook, but that would be a mistake.  Simple and understated, this savory pie will make you sit back in your chair and relish the flavors of summer.  A week or so after my first brunch visit at Jack Allen's Kitchen, I was delighted to find the recipe for this pie in the local newspaper, the Austin American Statesman.  I did a search online for that article, and even ran across a video clip of Jack making this recipe on a local morning news show. 

I made this recipe recently for the brunch we serve each month to our worship team at our church.  Even in the late winter days of February, using standard-issue Roma tomatoes from the grocery store, the dish was a fantastic hit.  I can tell you that making this dish in the summertime, with garden fresh heirloom tomatoes, makes all your senses light up like a pinball machine!

The Ingredients 

  • 3 tomatoes, sliced thinly (If you use a small variety, such as Roma, you will want 5 or 6)
  • 1 pie shell
  • 6 sprigs of basil  
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a combination of White Cheddar and Smoked Gruyere) 
  • 2 eggs  
  • 1 cup mayonnaise  
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese  
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

 Making It Work  

  1. About half an hour before baking the pie, season the tomatoes and let some of the water drain out of them. 
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Layer the sliced tomatoes on the bottom of an unbaked pie shell. Tear apart basil and place on top of tomatoes. Spread the shredded cheese on top. 
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and mayonnaise, then spread evenly over the tomatoes and cheese in the pie shell. 
  4. Top the pie with Parmesan cheese, which will form a delicate top crust.  
  5. Bake for approx 45 minutes, until it is bubbly and golden brown. Serves 4.

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