Crawfish and Smoked Tomato Gratin 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Top Tomato 2014 Aug 20, 2014

The wow factor in this rich dish is the subtle smoke of the tomatoes. They take a while to make, but they are worth it.

You'll need a 2-quart gratin dish.

Make Ahead: The tomatoes take 1 to 3 hours to smoke. They can be refrigerated 2 or 3 days in advance, or frozen for up to 6 months.

Where to Buy: Cooked, frozen crawfish tails are available at Harris Teeter stores, at Cameron's Seafood in Silver Spring and A&H Gourmet Seafood in Bethesda.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups diced, smoked Roma tomatoes (see NOTE)
  • 2 pounds cooked crawfish tails, defrosted (see headnote)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, onion and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, just until the onion is translucent but not browned.

Stir in the diced, smoked tomatoes; cook until their moisture has evaporated but not enough to break down the tomatoes. Transfer the pan’s contents to a mixing bowl.

Return the pan to medium-high heat; add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Once it has melted, add 1 pound of the crawfish tails; cook just until barely heated through. Add the wine and lemon juice; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until those liquids are mostly evaporated.

Return the tomato mixture to the pan, stirring to incorporate. Stir in the parsley and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in the heavy cream. Season lightly with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that next you will blend in 2 cups of the grated cheese.

Use a little butter to grease the gratin dish. Distribute the remaining pound of crawfish tails evenly over the bottom, then spoon the saute pan’s contents evenly over the crawfish. Top with the remaining cup of grated cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown and bubbly on top.

Serve warm.

NOTE: To smoke the tomatoes, soak several handfuls of wood chips in a pan of water for 30 minutes. Light about a half a chimney starter full of charcoal.

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Choose 8 to 10 meaty, vine-ripened Roma tomatoes. Core and blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute to loosen their skins, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice-water bath. Discard the skins, which should slip off easily. Cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half; discard the gel and seeds in each. Drain the tomato halves, cut sides down, on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.

Prepare the grill for indirect heat: If using a gas grill, preheat one side to medium/medium-high (375 degrees) with the lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a low fire (100 to 200 degrees), you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 8 to 10 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush the grill grate.

Drain the wood chips and scatter them evenly over the coals (or in a perforated foil packed for a gas grill).

Arrange the drained tomato halves on the indirect-heat side of the grate; close the lid and smoke/grill for 1 to 3 hours (to taste; you may need to add more soaked/drained wood chips after the first hour, and briquettes/charcoal halfway through). The tomatoes should appear dry, a little brown around the edges but not burnt. Cut into 1/4-inch dice.

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Recipe Source

From Oakton, Va., resident Tim Artz.

Tested by Andrew Sikkenga.

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