This week is the second “Local Dish” recipe that I got to help prep and then watch its filming for airing on WRAL noon news.
Each Friday afternoon, a segment highlighting North Carolina products in the creation of a dish hosted by Lisa Prince and Brian Shrader is shown. I got to tag along as Lisa and her sister Michele shopped for ingredients at the Raleigh State farmers market, then assist in prepping the recipes. On the third and final day I hung out while a station photog, Mark taped the duo cook the dishes.
This recipe, Roasted Tomato Upside Down Cornbread was a winner for the House Autry contest at last year’s NC State Fair. The fair is held in October, and this timing gave Lisa Prince a bit of a curve ball as she was preparing the recipe for TV.
At the farmers market, we chose beautiful, ripe, and juicy summer heirloom tomatoes. Unfortunately, when cooking, that juice was too juicy, and initially resulted in a wet finished product.
When the dish was invented, it was fall. There’s a reason why folks don’t get worked up about autumn tomato sandwiches; they aren’t the same succulent gifts of the summer months. So, the initial roasting dries and sweetens the fall tomatoes the perfect amount for the finished cornbread.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make it in the summer, you just have to take two tiny extra steps along the way.
Roasted Tomato Upside Down Cornbread
1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper
4 – 5 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup milk
1 box House-Autry Stone Ground Buttermilk Cornbread Baking Mix
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
½ tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. fresh minced basil
Preheat the oven to 425.
In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat the olive oil mixture in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Arrange tomato slices in an overlapping circular pattern in skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the skillet in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
In the meantime, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta cheese, and milk, then stir in cornbread mix, Parmesan, dried oregano and dried basil until just combined.
Take the skillet out of the oven and spread the batter carefully over the tomatoes. Bake at 425° for 12 – 14 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Rest in pan for 5 minutes then invert onto a serving platter. Sprinkle fresh basil over the top and serve.
Lisa’s Notes: Julia Truelove took home first place with this award-winning cornbread at the 2018 NC State Fair. If using summer tomatoes that are juicy, be sure to remove as much juice as possible after roasting before adding the cornbread mixture.
Debbie’s extra notes: I would also salt the freshly sliced tomatoes and after letting them sit for 15-20 minutes, blot away the surface moisture with a paper towel before layering into the skillet.
As pretty and delicious as the cornbread is, the recipe gives you one more gift. The opportunity for a little excitement.
It’s the flippening.
The skillet is hot and heavy, and there’s always the possibility that the cornbread will stick, and not come out cleanly.
But, be brave and soldier on, you can do this. I have complete faith in you. And imagine what a culinary hero you’ll look to you family and guests. Go, you!
Thanks for your time.
Contact debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org.