Summertime pies

June 4, 2017

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Tomato and street corn pie. One of the greatest justifications for summer.

Yes, I am aware that according to the calendar, it is not yet summer. However, I am getting good tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market (and will get good ones out of my garden soon, as my plants are laden with green ones).

And the market had blackberries yesterday. And the grocery had decent looking sweet corn for Memorial Day last weekend.

That, of course, means only one thing. Well, only two things. Pie.

Pie times 2.25, to be precise, because I overprepared the filling for one of ’em. Not to be defeated, I cooked a little crustless version of it, along with its big brother and its sweet cousin.

And I am having, as soon as they cool down enough to eat, tomato and street corn pie, with blackberry cobbler and ice cream for dessert.

Don’t you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em wish you were eating with me? Well, it’s going to take these sweethearts about 20 minutes to cool. The house looks like hell, but y’all come on!

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Tomatoes, draining away. Use any variety you like.

This street corn and tomato pie is something I came up with last summer, and promptly forgot about after making it once. I shouldn’t have done that. But browsing back through the blog, I found it, and I thought to myself, “Self? We need to tweak on this recipe just a bit, and see if we can perfect this thing.” Self agreed that was a fine idea, so we set about it this afternoon after church, as I have no children and Child A is nesting in her room.

There are a lot of steps to this pie, though none of ’em are complicated. Don’t leave any of them out, please. The pie will still be good…but it won’t be AS good. After you make it once, you may want to do some tweaking yourownself — if so, tweak away. But try the original first, mmmm’kay?

Peel you about four decent sized tomatoes. I used a couple of hybrid reds I’ve been getting from the Amish farmers, and some Carolina Golds one of the other market vendors had. I cored them, cut an X on the bottom, put them in a bowl, and poured boiling water over them, let them sit some 5 minutes while I was doing other stuff, and then peeled them. This isn’t critical, but it makes the pie easier to eat; I don’t care for the tough tomato peel once it’s baked in there.

Slice the tomatoes between a quarter- and a half-inch thick, lay them out on a double thickness of paper towels, and salt them, then leave them to drain for a while. Come back and blot the tops, then cover them with fresh toweling and flip them over, salting the other side. Don’t skip this; the tomatoes will be way too watery if you don’t do it, and your pie crust will get soggy.

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Corn and crema filling, left; mayo and cheese topping, right. Double yum.

While they’re draining, put a pie crust in a deep dish pan, line it with foil, and fill it with pie weights, or dry beans, or rice to keep it from bubbling up. It wants about 15 minutes at 350, then remove the foil and weights and let it cool.

OK. So your tomatoes are draining, and your crust is par-baking. Cut the kernels off four ears of corn. I had six, so I used six, which was more than I needed, but I had more tomatoes  than I needed, too, so it all worked out well. Put the corn in a bowl and add about two cups of sour cream or Greek yogurt, whichever you have handy, along with a tablespoon of chili powder and a half-teaspoon of cumin. Grate into the bowl about a cup and a half of cotija cheese and stir that all up. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if you want.

Now get another bowl, and grate about a cup of some other kind of cheese in it. I used co-jack. Mix it with about a cup of mayonnaise. This is your topping.

Fry up six or so strips of thick bacon and chop it up into bacon bits when it’s crisp. By now, your crust should be baked and cooled, your tomatoes mostly drained, and you’ve just gotten everything else ready. Turn your oven back on 350 (if you ever turned it off).

Start with a layer of street corn in the bottom of the pie crust. You want about a half-inch, maybe a little more. Smooth it out. Layer tomato slices over it; sprinkle bacon over that. Repeat the layers. This time, you’ll top your bacon and tomatoes with the mayo-and-cheese mixture.  Use any leftovers to build yourself a little mini-pie in a ramekin or two.

Slide these in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the topping layer is golden. Then the hard part starts. You really need to let this cool down to warm — a bit above room temp — to enjoy it best. The flip side of that is, it’s also marvelous tomorrow morning, fresh out of the fridge, although I prefer to nuke a slice back to a barely-warm temp first.

Take a bite. Let your eyes roll back in your head. The sweet corn, the spicy crema, the tang of the tomatoes, the silky mayo-and-cheese over it all. People, this is well and truly Sweet Baby Jesus territory. It’s also a lot richer than you think it is, particularly if you used sour cream, so be advised accordingly.

I might prefer — and will try later on this year — making this with Romas or some other kind of paste tomato, instead of slicers, to do away with some more of the water. Even drained, those slicing tomaotes made the pie awfully juicy. It calls for a spoon to eat it with. I might even think about giving the tomato slices a whirl on my dehydrator first; not enough to really dry them, but just to get rid of a lot of the water.

In any event, you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em save this one and try it a few times this summer when the corn and tomatoes are ripe and plentiful. I’m betting it’d be good with fresh basil. It’d be good without the bacon. You could add shredded chicken for a different flavor profile and to really make a main dish out of it.

Y’all do this. And enjoy the pies of summer.

 

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