I am not a raw tomato person. When I was little I would pick out all the insides of a slice of tomato and eat just the outside skin part. When I started testing this recipe, I knew it was a NOT A KEEPER when I ate one forkful and threw it away. After 4 different versions and 6 trials (do you know how difficult it is to get a polenta souffle to rise inside a tomato? Luckily I did all the figuring out for you).
The first time I made a souffle in a tomato (to see if it could be done) and the same souffle in a ramekin (to see how well it tasted). This was a success but the souffle inside the tomato was not tasty at all and had a quiche consistency to it (The Nudge gave me that review last night). I made a different inside, this time with a bread pudding souffle. I liked the cheese I chose and the onions but the bread was too moist and didn't stand up well. So, as usual, I spent half the night reworking the recipe. I didn't want to change the theme just the way to make it taste, bake it better and have the consistency good with the baked soft tomato.
I finally nailed what I would say was a dish that not only would I eat, I would eat 2 of them. While each component of this dish is wonderful on it's own, the total sum of all the ingredients gives you a perfectly balanced whole. You must make the bacon jam, not only because this dish isn't the same without it, you can spoon it onto anything and it would be over the top good. While this is an excellent side dish, with the addition of a poach or fried egg on top...it also is the perfect breakfast or brunch dish and with a salad, it becomes a complete Sunday supper. I am happy to report that sans the egg, left-overs survive a re-heat well (hubby took one to work today).
Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes with Goat Cheese Polenta Souffle and Bacon Jam
Tomato Preparation and Bacon Jam:
* 6 Heirloom Tomatoes
* 6 slices of applewood smoked bacon + ½ pound, sliced into matchstick slices
* 6 toothpicks
* Grapefruit spoon or melon baller
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 3 onions, sliced
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1/2 cup fresh ginger, minced
* 2 cloves, whole
* 1 cup honey, Agave nectar, sugar or Splenda
1. In heavy-bottomed sauce pan, sauté bacon in olive oil until fat is rendered and bacon is still soft (about 10 minutes). Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel lined dish. In bacon fat, sauté onions for 4-5 minutes, add garlic for 1 minute.
2. Add ginger, cloves and sauté another minute. Add honey and simmer for 1 hour until thick and creamy. Put drained bacon back into pan and warm through. Remove cloves and in food processor, process until pasty and bacon is a fine mince. Can be covered and refrigerated for 2 weeks but it won't last that long.
3. While jam is cooking, prepare tomatoes.
4. Slice top ¼ off tomato, and discard. If tomatoes wobble, slice a sliver off the bottom to make tomato stable. Scoop out insides, reserve for another dish. Wrap 1 slice bacon around outside rim of tomato and secure with toothpick. On rack set over baking pan, turn tomato upside down and bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
5. Flip over and sprinkle ½ tsp dry bread crumbs (either flavored or pain) in each tomato. Reserve (can be prepared and refrigerated up to this point).
* 1/4 cup quick cooking polenta or grits (you could make regular cooking polenta)
* 1/2 cup sweet onion, small dice
* 1 garlic clove, diced
* 1 tbls unsalted butter
* 2/3 cup whole milk
* 1 1/3 cup water
* 2 tbls bacon jam
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 4 ounces Coach Garlic & Herb Goat cheese or Garlic & Herb Boursin
* 2 whole eggs, divided + 2 egg whites
1. Saute onions and garlic in butter. Add milk and water, bring to a boil. Slowly pour in polenta, whisking vigorously until it starts to bubble. Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add cheese and stir till incorporated. Remove from heat and let cool. Add yolks to cooled polenta.
3. Whip 4 egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks. Stir in 1/3 of the egg whites into polenta to lighten up the mixture.
4. With as large a spatula as you have, gently fold in next 1/3 of egg whites. Scrape side of bowl bringing up mixture from bottom, flipping it over the top while rotating bowl, not your arm. Repeat until you see almost no whites. Repeat procedure with last third of polenta (you do not have to be especially gentle with the folding).
5. Place tomatoes on baking sheet and fill cavities with soufflé mixture until it is even with the top. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven.
6. Before serving, spoon heaping tablespoon of bacon jam over soufflé, remove toothpick from tomato and serve. For main dish and more protein, I would add a poached or fried egg on top, then the jam.
7. Cooks Note: Bacon Jam, Banana & Peanut Butter Panini....Elvis would turn over in his grave......need I say more?