à la MawMaw and à la Creole
By Tim H. Martin
Before you country cookin' traditionalists look at these ingredients and start throwing tomatoes at me, I confess my recipe is a bit different than what most mawmaws make. Leave out the hot sauce, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper to make it more like hers, or add something new to make it your own.
Most Southern tomato gravy recipes, or creamed tomatoes as they are often called above the Mason-Dixon Line, typically consist of bacon grease, flour, tomatoes, salt, pepper and maybe a touch of cream.
Being a child of New Orleans, my preference is the Creole version, with hot sauce, cayenne pepper and garlic. I like more zing than Granny did.
I also like to let tomato gravy mellow overnight before serving so the layers of flavor meld together. It goes well over hot buttermilk biscuits, rice, grits or even fish. And if you like breakfast for supper, tomato gravy is a must-try.
In the photo, I placed a fried catfish fillet on top of a bed of rice smothered in tomato gravy, then put more tomato gravy on the catfish. I topped everything with fried green tomatoes and bacon bits. If you try it, don't plan on being hungry for the next three days!
Bon Appétit, Ya'll,
1 Tbls. butter with 1 Tbls. olive oil (or 2 Tbls. bacon grease)
2 Tbls. all purpose flour
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes or 2 cups fresh, diced tomatoes
1/2 cup broth, beef or chicken
2 Tbls. heavy cream
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
A pinch sugar
1/2 Tbls. dried basil
Optional Creole Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
Your favorite hot sauce, to taste
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Step 1: In a heavy skillet or pot, heat the butter and olive oil (or bacon grease). Add garlic and stir for about a minute. Sprinkle in flour, stirring with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes to make a light roux.
Step 2: On medium heat, slowly add broth, stirring to eliminate any clumps for a few minutes. When it becomes a thick paste, add tomatoes and remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Bring to a low boil, then lower heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. For thicker tomato gravy, give it about 40 minutes to cook without a lid.