Straight from 19th-century American cookbooks, these big chunks of ripe beefsteak and green tomatoes (use more red ones in a pinch) get bathed in a warm, garlicky, sweet-sour dressing.
They can stand on their own, they’re dynamite over grilled slabs of eggplant, pork or steak, and they make an unforgettable tomato-potato salad. Bacon fat was favored 150 years ago; olive oil works well today. Out of season, this recipe even flies with those not-so-great supermarket tomatoes on the vine.
Cook to Cook: This dressing can be prepared several hours ahead up to the point of adding the vinegar. Stand back when you add the vinegar to the fat, and be sure the bacon fat or oil is warm — but not hot — when the vinegar goes in.
1. Gently combine the tomatoes in a large bowl. Heat the bacon fat or oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and a little salt and pepper. Sauté about a minute, or until garlic is softened but not browned. Stir in the onion and cook another minute just to soften slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until melted.
2. When ready to serve, warm the onion mixture (it should not be hot). Remove from the heat, stand back and stir in the boiled-down vinegar and any liquid from the tomatoes; taste for seasoning. Pour over the tomatoes, folding in the dill. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.
Harold McGee, the author of Keys to Good Cooking, is an expert on the chemistry behind food and cooking. McGee recently made his first trip to China, where he learned more about rice wine.