Old South Tomato Pie
By Tim H. Martin
Recipe Courtesy of Walters’ Gas & Grill • Society Hill, Alabama.
I was beginning to think tomato pie was extinct.
The dish seems to have vanished from the Deep South like cotton mills, moonshine stills and Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers.
But lo and behold, I found a living, breathing specimen in rural Alabama, hiding between the fried okra and collard greens on a country store meat-and-three buffet.
On a tip from a friend, I made a culinary expedition to Walters’ Gas & Grill, a cinderblock gas station-slash-restaurant located in Macon County, Alabama. It only took one bite for me to know this recipe deserved to be captured and taken off the endangered species list. The rich flavors of tomato, bacon and cheese were the perfect pairing for my lunch choices: fried chicken, field peas, okra and cornbread.
Tomato Pie is as country as country gets. Why it’s disappearing is beyond me. Maybe it’s because our maw maws knew the recipe by heart and never wrote it down. Or maybe it’s because it would take about a half marathon to run off just one slice.
Weight watchers aside, enjoy this timeless dish handed down to restaurant-owner Penny Walters by her great-aunt Rebecca Motes.
Penny has never shared her family recipe before, so I hope you’ll print off the recipe, relish it and pass it down to your young ‘uns.
Ingredients: (per 9-inch round, ready-made deep dish pie crust).
4 to 6 thick tomato slices, sliced and seasoned with salt & black pepper
4 to 6 slices bacon — enough to cover the tomatoes, crumbled
1 1/2 cups sweet onion (preferably Vidalia) chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar and/or pepper jack)
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Sauté bacon and chopped onions, drain and reserve. Mix sour cream, mayo, cheeses and basil in a bowl, reserve. Slice tomatoes, then season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the piecrust slightly, for about 5 minutes, then remove from oven. Place seasoned tomatoes slices on bottom layer. The bacon and onions layer is next. Then comes the sour cream, mayo, cheese and basil mixture. Smooth it down loosely with a rubber spatula. Bake for up to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top.
If you live too far from Walters’ Gas & Grill to drop in for lunch, live vicariously through their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Waltersgasandgrillatthehill/