As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been trying out some recipes from S’Cook: The Complete French Cookery Course by Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic, and my favorite section of the cookbook (it’s divided into five parts) is the “For Children” section, which includes classic French recipes for at-home cooks to make for their kids. The recipes in this section aren’t like anything I’ve seen in any kid-oriented cookbook in that all of the dishes are still sophisticated dishes with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. “Contrary to popular belief,” Pic writes, “children will love and appreciate sophisticated food, as long as they are used to tasting unfamiliar things.”
I totally, 100% agree with this. Every week in our house I try anywhere from two to five new recipes on my family. I’m constantly buying new ingredients that I’ve never worked with and am always on the hunt for recipes that I think I can make or adapt for everyone. That’s why I’m so excited about S’Cook, and why I jumped at the chance to try these ground lamb and ham stuffed tomatoes, or what Chef Pic calls “Grandma Suzanne’s stuffed tomatoes.”
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Making these tomatoes took a little time. I actually reversed the steps in the recipe (this is why reading a recipe in its entirety is important before you actually start cooking, because sometimes the steps in a recipe can actually be less time efficient than actually written). The recipe says that you’re supposed to prepare the filling first, but I found it more efficient to prep the tomatoes first. You have to cut off the tops of the tomatoes, scoop out the juicy insides and then let the hollowed-out “shells” drain on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. That 15 minutes is a very useful time to prep and cook the stuffing. By the time you’re done with the stuffing, the tomato “shells” have had sufficient time to drain. Et voila.
I know I discussed this at length yesterday, but the kids loved these stuffed tomatoes. The juices from the tomatoes and the lamb stuffing mixed incredibly well together, creating a succulent bite of acid and meatiness. For our stuffed tomatoes, I bought a Niman Ranch boneless cured ham from Whole Foods, which I then diced into tiny pieces and mixed with the ground lamb. I have a feeling that ham in France might be drastically different in texture and taste than what is typically available here in the U.S. The Niman Ranch ham did add a nice saltiness to my lamb stuffing that I wasn’t expecting, but I bet you could eliminate it entirely and still have a nice, tasty stuffed tomato.
The stuffed tomatoes were such a resounding success at our family dinner table that I’m already looking for our next family meal from the “For Children” section of S’Cook. There’s an amazing-looking drome caillette turnover recipe, a puff pastry filled with spinach, pork loin, chicken livers, pork back fat and a splash of Cognac for good measure. Alternatively, I’m also considering a poached sole (fish) fillet with potatoes and sweet spices of anise, cinnamon and nutmeg. Seriously, folks. If this is what French kids are eating (or aspire to eat), then we’re doing it wrong. Really, really wrong.
The recipe I’ve included below is adapted from S’Cook. The major change is in the measurements, which in S’Cook is in ounces. For ease of American home cooking, I’ve converted all of the measurements to cups and tablespoons. I’ve also eliminated the Parmesan cheese so that this recipe is Whole30 compliant and Paleo, too.
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- 4 large firm beefsteak tomatoes
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 mushrooms, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
- ½ pound ground lamb
- ½ cup ham, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, minced
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper
- Using a serrated knife, cut off the tops of the tomatoes, then scoop out the fleshy insides and seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle salt inside the tomatoes, then invert and place on a wire rack upside down with a baking sheet or foil underneath. Leave to drain for at least 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a skillet over medium-low heat, add the butter and melt. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook slowly for 2-3 minutes without letting them brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add lamb, ham, garlic, parsley and egg to the pan and stir gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop stuffing into drained tomatoes, replace their tops, and place on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes and serve immediately.