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A New Way to Char Tomato Skins

July 17, 2002

The technique used to blacken the tomatoes for Salsa Negra is one we had never encountered before in the Times Test Kitchen. We were slightly skeptical about placing the tomatoes in a water bath beneath the broiler. But it worked perfectly.

We placed the whole tomatoes in a 13x9-inch baking pan and poured in enough water to come halfway up the tomatoes. We placed the pan on the top rack of the oven directly beneath the broiler--about 3 inches away. The exposed part of the tomatoes blackened, and the skin began to curl in 15 to 20 minutes. The size of the tomatoes and the actual heat of the broiler could make this time vary.

Because the tomatoes were in the water bath, they did not fall apart. They could be turned over easily with tongs. When the second side was blackened, the tomatoes could be removed whole and placed in the blender.

The advantage of the water bath is that the tomatoes do not overcook, yet they char beautifully. The final benefit is that the pan is a snap to clean.

Christy Hedges

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