Talk about gift horses.
When Carol Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm called to ask if I would like a few of the very last of their end-of-season Asti paste tomatoes, I said, "Well, yeah!" After all, the last batch, which I roasted on the Weber, produced a smoky, rich, brick-red sauce that is sitting, bagged and waiting, in the freezer for the time when Dave gets a yen to make pizza on the grill.
Walker, checking out the goods.
Little did I suspect that by "just a few" she meant a big heavy duty cardboard box containing, oh, about 30 pounds-worth delivered by the angel herself on her way to drop off a little produce with one Mr. Greg Higgins. So with the box sitting on my counter and fruit flies buzzing greedily around, I fired up the oven, got out my two largest roasting pans and got to work.
For those of you who know that I adore my tomatoes smoked on the Weber (charcoal, of course), the reason I chose the oven method was two-fold: first, I have lots of the smoky goodness already (see above), and second, I wanted to be able to leave them roasting away without worrying about adding coals or turning the grill. And 30 pounds at four pounds a batch and two hours each was more math than I wanted to do.
So, unlike my last oven-roasting session, I simply chopped the tomatoes into big hunks, set them skin-side down in the roasting pans and slid them into a 300° oven until they started caramelizing, which took about two to two-and-a-half hours. No onions, no garlic, no oil, just tomatoes. Then I scooped them out into a bowl, let them cool a bit and pulled the skins off by hand (a sieve or food mill would be another option if you don't want skins or seeds).
Mind you, it took all day and four of those double-roasting pan batches to do them all, but do them all I did. Then Dave got out the KitchenAid mixer with its handy-dandy grinder and produced a fine grind that is, even as I write, simmering away on the stove to reduce to a fine sauce, soon to join its brothers-in-bags in the deep freeze. Can't wait!