Roasted Tomato Bloody Mary: A Piece of Cake #64
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Weekends in the restaurant industry mean one thing: brunch. And you can’t have brunch without a bloody mary. In all my years of slinging eggs and bacon, I have made and served thousands of bloodys. And now, dear reader, I pass that knowledge onto you.
A perfect bloody starts with good tomato juice. I have found the very best to be Sacramento brand. (I will be name-dropping a bunch of specific name brands here; none are sponsored, but if anyone has ties to these companies, my inbox is open.) Sacramento has the right balance of mouthfeel, sweetness, and tomato umami. Plus, it doesn’t taste like a tin can; something that lesser tomato juices cannot claim. I have tried making bloodies with local tomato juice that’s sold in fancy glass jugs at the Greenmarket. And it’s good! But it’s no Sacramento. The fresh stuff, while lovely, is too watery and can’t stand up to the punchy flavors I prefer in a bloody.
Next, you need acid, and my bloody has it two ways. First in the form of fresh lemon juice, and next, via pickle brine. My house may not be a sourdough starter house, but we are definitely a pickle brine house. I’m always pickling something, and I never throw out a brine. I reuse brine: heating it up, topping it off with fresh vinegar and aromatics, and letting it work its magic. Rest assured, there is always a quart container of pickle brine in the back of my fridge. You can use whatever pickle brine you have on hand for this bloody, but if you’re using store-bought go for a non-sweet pickle. You want that vinegar punch.
For good old-fashioned Worcestershire sauce, it must be Lea & Perrins. Just like Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Heinz Ketchup, Lea & Perrins might as well be the only brand of Worcestershire sauce in existence. In addition to the Worcestershire sauce, I add in a bit of balsamic vinegar. Depending on the balsamic, this may add a bit more acid, but a better balsamic will add a roundness that works so well here. Don’t waste your finest, most expensive balsamic, but don’t cheap out either.
I firmly believe that bloody marys should be spicy. I don’t need a knock-your-socks-off burn, but a little pick-me-up is part of a bloody mary’s restorative qualities. Tabasco is the only hot sauce I will ever use in a bloody. On my eggs, I’m a Texas Pete or Crystal boy, but in a bloody, the vinegary-sharp heat of Tabasco is perfection. And after the Tabasco, I add in a big old dollop of Gold’s prepared horseradish. Again, only Gold’s. A few healthy grinds of black pepper round out the spicy side, and we’re moving on to sweetness.
In a restaurant setting, when I was making gallons of bloody mary mix at a time, the sweetness came from Heinz ketchup. And while that old standby still works in a pinch, I’d rather get my sweetness at home from roasted tomatoes. This idea came from an old Deb Perelman recipe for roasted tomato soup. She calls for straining cans of whole tomatoes, spreading them out on a sheet pan, and roasting them to concentrate the flavors. The result is a really lovely, rich tomato flavor that’s slightly caramelized. I added garlic cloves and thyme for a little extra boost. The roasted tomatoes get a quick buzz with the canned tomato juice, then they’re strained for the base of the cocktail. Now before you think, “How is a hungover me supposed to do all this?” Consider this a do-ahead bloody recipe. I made a big batch of this and froze it, and pulled it out for Easter brunch last weekend. Your hungover self will thank you later.
Finish these cocktails with the spirit of your choice. I prefer vodka while Andrew makes his with mezcal. Get as creative or simple as you’d like with your garnishes. A lemon wedge and crisp celery stalk will do, but I will not turn down a fancy little cornichon, pickled green bean, or olive in mine. But please, no sandwiches or other large food items on this bloody mary. Save the brunch for a plate.
Roasted Tomato Bloody Mary
1 26 ounces can whole tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 sprigs thyme
46 oz Sacramento tomato juice
¾ cup pickle brine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Gold's prepared horseradish
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce
Roast the tomatoes
Drain the can of tomatoes and reserve the liquid for another use. Gently crush the whole tomatoes with your hands.
Spread the crushed tomatoes onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Distribute the garlic and thyme evenly over the tomatoes. Season with salt and black pepper.
Roast at 450 for 30 minutes, or until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the tomatoes and garlic just begin to color. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Make the bloody mary
Add the roasted tomatoes and tomato juice to a blender. Blend until smooth. Strain the liquid into a bowl or directly into the pitcher for serving.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Taste and adjust to your preference for Tabasco, lemon, or salt.
Serve over ice with 2 ounces of your desired spirit and garnish of choice. I suggest celery, lemon, cornichon, and olives.
I really hope I’ll see you Sunday at Winner’s Circle. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and the merch looks incredible. I’m making a big, incredible cookie that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Get your tickets here.A post shared by Winner®️ (@winnernyc)
I can’t stop thinking about these steak and gravy fries at Dino’s in Nashville.A post shared by Dino's (@dinosnashville)
This Los Burritos Juarez and Gossamer burrito/pre-roll combo at For All Things Good this weekend is what dreams are made of. Specifically, my dreams. And I’m going to make them a reality by pre-ordering.
Welcome to the newsletter game, David Tamarkin. David is the Editorial Director at King Arthur, and he’s launching The Occasional David Tamarkin with a send dedicated to the wonderful Anna Stockwell…
…And speaking of Anna Stockwell, her cookbook comes out next week! I’m so excited to get my hands on a copy of For The Table, her dinner party book with family-style menus that work for any dietary restrictions.
May this parting shot be a reminder that you can come overcome any hurdle in the coming week: even an unsecured blender lid in the middle of shooting a bloody mary recipe during an extremely busy day. It might take a little elbow grease, but you can, and will, pull through:
A Piece of Cake is written by Bill Clark and edited by Andrew Spena. Photography by Hunter Abrams. Logo design by Brett LaBauve.