I’ve got the mother lode of tomatoes in my kitchen, issue from Baptiste Bourdon’s farm. I usually get his tomatoes at the market, but I was in need yesterday so I drove the 10 kilometers to his farm. He was in the field harvesting fava beans, but he came right to the barn when I buzzed him on his cell phone. Cases filled with tomatoes were stacked high – those he hadn’t sold at the morning market; those he would sell the next day, fragile all of them.
“Susan, take 20 kilos (40 pounds) and I’ll give you a price you can’t refuse,” he said. He didn’t have to twist my arm as I looked at the gorgeous Andine Cornu that he had on offer. These are a very special tomato from the cultivar Andes Horn. What sets them apart is, well, everything. Long, fat and lightly curved like the horns on a vache normand or Norman cow, they are meaty with few seeds, yet sweet with just a hint of acidity. I love them in a salad because they taste beguilingly of warmth and sun. They respond to long slow cooking too, making a sauce of rich depth.
I also have heirloom tomatoes from Baptiste, best known among them being the Coeur de Boeuf, or Beef Heart tomato. All the rage in France now, these juicy, thin-skinned tomatoes are almost more liquid than solid. Excellent thickly sliced and drizzled with a little vinegar and a little oil, sprinkled with diced garlic and fresh thyme, they’re hard to beat.
I’ve got to run, because the tomatoes are calling.
Nunzio’s Tomato Sauce (Italian Farmhouse Cookbook, Workman Publishing, page 424)
5 pounds (2-1/2 kg) tomatoes, peeled
4 cloves garlic, crushed the the flat of a knife, and peeled
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar (not necessary if you use Andine Cornu variety)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup gently packed basil leaves
1. Place all the ingredients in a medium-size saucepan, ocver and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium so the sauce is boiling gently, uncover and cook, stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes, until all of the liquid is evaporated. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1-1/4 hours. Stir the sauce often as it thickens to be sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
3 cups sauce