Give me a few ingredients Lynne Rossetto Kasper-style and I can make something that lands somewhere between edible and tasty, as long as we’re not talking sweets. Baking does not come easily to me, and it took me a long time before the successes outweighed the failures. I’ve looked to others for advice and have found the following greatly increase my chance of success:
1. Buy store-bought pie crust (Betty and Connie)
2. When making apple pie, use half white sugar and half brown sugar (Grandma Muder)
3. Put some bourbon in it (my mom, obviously)
Putting all three into play resulted in my go-to pie recipe, Caramel Apple Pie, which I loved so much I renamed it LOVE POTION NO. 9. If you have an abundance of apples or want to make someone fall in love with you*, I’d highly recommend it. Last year, thanks to the prolific apple tree in my parents yard, I DID have an abundance of apples. This year was not an apple producing year, however, so I thought that LOVE POTION TESTING would be out until my mom handed me a big bag of green tomatoes and mentioned Green Tomato Pie. Two seconds with Google told me that this Southern specialty might be the answer I was looking for to use up the green tomatoes and continue my scientific study.
Although technically, green tomatoes can count as any unripened tomato, this is the best time of year to use them in this way. Earlier in the year, while the days and nights are still warm, tomatoes will do their best to ripen while on the vine. Once a frost hits though, the chances that they will sweetly ripen on the vine are pretty slim. It’s at this point that you can try to force them to ripen (best bet here is to leave them in a paper bag and check on them once in awhile to see if any are ready) or to embrace the green. The tomatoes force ripened are still better than the tomatoes you’ll find in a mid-winter Midwestern grocery store, but they lack the flavor and sweetness of a summer-ripened counterpart. My suggestion is to do a little bit of both, and with 2 lbs. of the green tomatoes, make yourself this pie.
I was apprehensive about what a tomato would taste like when used in place of apples in a pie, but once I got over the thought of it, the flavor and texture proved to be awesome. I read that a few people said “you’ll never know it’s not apple!”, and I think that might be a bit optimistic. While the color and taste are not easily identifiable, I would not say that they are an apple dead-ringer. However, they were much sweeter and tastier than I’d expected, and all my other tasters agreed, helping to polish off this pie in two days flat.
Bourbon Caramel Green Tomato Pie
Green Tomato Mixture
2 lb. green tomatoes
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. Kosher salt
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. white sugar
3 T. water
1 T. whiskey or bourbon
3/4 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. water
4 T. non-dairy butter
2 prepared pie crusts (non-dairy)
1 T. sugar
Preheat oven to 400° F. Remove prepared pie crusts from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the tomatoes and boil for about 3-5 minutes or until the skins split. Remove from water and cool. When cool enough to handle, remove as much skin from the tomatoes as possible. Cut off the stem end, quarter the tomatoes, and slice thinly. Place sliced tomatoes on paper towels and pat to remove excess liquid. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and add lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, flour and sugar. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the first three ingredients for the caramel sauce and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup water. Set over medium-high heat and cook for about five minutes. Remove from pan and whisk in the butter. Add the whiskey mixture and stir until everything is well mixed and smooth. Pour over tomato mixture and stir to combine.
Transfer 1 dough round to a deep pie pan. Unfold and ease into pan, patting it into the pan. Pour tomato mixture into the pie shell. Unfold the second dough round and place over the top. Press the sides together to make a tight seal around the outside edges, and then cut 6-8 slits on the top of the pie. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake until the crust is golden, for about an hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 1-1/2 hours before serving.
Estimated Calories: 267 cal/serving
Print it: Bourbon Caramel Green Tomato Pie
– This is a saucy pie and while baking it can easily bubble over. I’d highly recommend placing a baking sheet underneath the pie while baking to catch any saucy drips.
– Even with the store-bought crust, I still had trouble when rolling it out. So, Sophie and I made a few decorative patches for the crust in the form of flowers and vines to seal up the holes left behind by my poor rolling skills. I liked the look so much, I think I’ll do it again. It took very little time and made the pie look extra FANCY.
– The first time I made the pie I used whiskey and the second time I used bourbon. My taste buds are not finely tuned enough to catch the difference when used in this recipe. I think either one is just fine.
– Not all store-bought pie crust is non-dairy, so be sure to check the ingredients if non-dairy is important to your family.
*never actual proven, but I love data and look forward to your research.