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Recipe from the Past: South Jersey Tomato Gravy
Tomato Gravy: Historical South Jersey Cuisine
Every summer in South Jersey when tomato season is in full swing, many of the old families of South Jersey make Tomato Gravy - for breakfast, lunch or dinner (not to be confused with South Jersey Italian gravy/sauce). It is an easy and delicious meal that can be prepared in a matter of minutes. Served over mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, buttered toast points or rice, Tomato Gravy is as versatile as eggs and as delicious as filet mignon (at least to a South Jersian!). My recipe is a combination of a recipe passed down from my Grammy who lived on a farm (where I spent most of my childhood) and the recipe of an old neighbor, an elderly man who befriended me when I decided to stay home and raise my boys. We would chat while I worked in my garden and he tended to his lawn. He graciously gave me his recipe, which I combined with my Grammy's to make the best Tomato Gravy ever. I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do and maybe make it a part of your culinary heritage.
- 3 to 4 large Ripe Red Tomatoes
- 1 T. Bacon fat
- 1 T. Butter
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup All purpose flour
- 1 cup Whole Milk, or more to desired consistency
- sprinkle Salt to taste
- sprinkle Pepper to taste
- 2 pieces buttered toast, cut into points (per serving) or
- 1 serving fried potatoes (per serving) or
- 1 serving rice (per serving)
The Gravy Making Process!
- In a large skillet, melt bacon fat and butter together. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices and place in pan with melted fat and butter. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have broken down and are chunky. At this time the tomatoes will shed their skins and you can remove them to a plate or to the trash. Some people leave the skins in the gravy, I prefer them taken out. After the skins have been removed, sprinkle the flour over the top of the cooked down tomatoes. Using a flat whisk, whisk the flour into the tomatoes until almost paste-like in texture.
- At this point, slowly pour the milk into the tomato/flour mixture all the while stirring gently with the whisk to incorporate the milk into the flour and tomatoes. Pour enough milk into the tomato mixture to make a gravy like consistency (like dried beef gravy, if you have ever made that). Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and add more milk if needed to make it the consistency desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low until toast, potatoes or rice is ready.
- Prepare the toast with butter. Cut into points and lay on a plate. Pour the gravy over the toast points. Enjoy.
- This gravy is delicious over homemade fried potatoes or hash browns, as well. And, with rice, too!