Confit Tomatoes and Eggs in Purgatory: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 5

Muir Glen Cooking School

We're back with more tomato tips from chefs across the country. Read on for canned tomato inspiration! And don't forget to share your own tomato tips on Twitter using using hashtag #muirglencookingschool.

Earlier lessons from the Muir Glen Cooking School:
Introducing The Muir Glen Cooking School: Part 1
The Muir Glen Cooking School: Part 2
Salsa, Italian Tricks, and More: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 3
Bisque, Marinara, and Debunking Grandma: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 4

Muir Glen Whole Tomatoes

Chef Brad Spence

I start by toasting some garlic sliced really thin in olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until you eyeball it and it's toasty around the edges, not burned. Then I'll take some whole canned tomatoes and crush them in the pan itself along with half of the juice. I'll add a pinch or two of red chili flakes (how much depends on your tolerance for heat) for a touch of heat. I'll then cook a pound of spaghetti if I'm serving 3-4 people and cook the pasta about a minute less than the box says to cook it. I'll throw the pasta into the saute pan to bring everything together and then give it a toss to coat the pasta with the tomatoes. Then I'll add 1/2 of a cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and I will sometimes throw some hand-ripped basil on top for a little sweetness, but it is not a necessity. I'll then put it on a platter and top it with another half a cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. This dish is great for your family or for guests. Everybody loves it and it's so easy.

-Brad Spence, Chef and co-owner with Marc Vetri, Amis Trattoria, Philadelphia


I totally dig Muir Glen tomatoes, especially the fire roasted ones. We like to use them on focaccia because they don't burn but become more intense in the high heat. Since they're packed in their own juices, it makes them less susceptible to burring in the oven.

-Michelle Gayer, Chef and Owner, Salty Tart Bakery, Minneapolis, MN


A broccoli rabe sandwich with hand-stretched fresh mozzarella at Cutty's features housemade tomato jam. [Photograph: Mari Levine]

We like to confit whole canned tomatoes. The finished product is awesome on a simple sandwich with good ricotta, grilled bread, and fancy EVOO. Or, as a pasta sauce, or the base for an intense tomato vinaigrette. First, separate the tomatoes from their liquid, and gently squeeze them to get rid of any excess juice. Reserve the liquid for another use (great for Bloody Mary mix or poaching fish) and then place the tomatoes into a small-ish, deep oven-proof vessel. Add a few whole garlic cloves, a handful of fresh thyme (or whatever you want, lemon peel, star anise, etc are all fair game), big pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cover the ingredients with nice olive oil and bake in the oven at 300F for 40 minutes, until the tomatoes darken a bit and the oil is lightly bubbling. Cool a bit and enjoy. Keeps in the fridge for about 10 days. Just the oil is awesome for dipping or drizzling on grilled meats, veggies, whatever.

-Charles Kelsey, Owner, Cutty's, Brookline, MA


One of the great ways to use canned tomatoes is to make eggs in purgatory. All I do is gently saute some garlic in a saute pan, then add in a can of whole tomatoes with their liquid into the pan, and then crush the whole tomatoes. Then heat the tomatoes over low heat and then when they start to bubble gently crack as many eggs as you want to cook. The eggs then poach in the sauce. If you want put some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top when the eggs are done. Serve with grilled bread.

-Ed Levine, Founder, Serious Eats


We usually use tomatoes frozen during the season, but canned work just the same. One way I like to use them, as they usually have a high water content, is to roast at a high temperature. I would start by getting a pan hot with beef fat (or grapeseed oil if you don't want to use meat) and adding peeled shallots. Shake the pan gently until the shallots brown on the outside. Add in a couple thyme sprigs and add the tomatoes, then season with salt and pepper. Place the pan into a very hot oven. The tomato juice will finish braising the shallots while it reduces and the tomatoes themselves will caramelize on top and make a nice crust. Cook until the shallots are tender, and add a splash of water occasionally if the pan gets too dry. If the tomatoes start to get too dark, just give the pan a shake to moisten them again. This side dish goes great with meat or fish, especially fattier cuts.

-Jason Bond, Chef, Bondir, Cambridge, MA

Muir Glen Diced Tomatoes

My mom used to make this when I was a kid: she would take regular can of diced tomatoes, take out some of the juice, pour the rest of the contents of the can in a baking dish and add sliced garlic and olive oil. Then she would bake that for 30 minutes at 350-400 degrees until the tomatoes would get a little caramelized on the top. Then she would grate some Parmigianano-Reggiano and shred some fresh basil to top the tomatoes with. She would serve this at a dinner party with some toasted bread, and it was awesome.

-Danny Amend, Executive Chef, Marco's, NYC

Check back next week for more tips from the Muir Glen Cooking School!