America has introduced many new culinary joys to me, and one of my favourites is the humble ‘cobbler’. In the warmer months, there is nothing that signals summer more than peach, plum or berry cobbler – an oozy fruit concoction, topped with a buttery, flaky ‘biscuit’ dough (American ‘biscuits’ are essentially the equivalent of an Australian/English scone). I’ve learnt to make a few different variations of cobblers over these past few years, but this one, a savoury deep-dish creation of ripe summer tomatoes topped with a stunning parmesan drop-biscuit dough, has become my go-to main-meal cobbler.
This cobbler, a savoury deep-dish creation of ripe summer tomatoes topped with a stunning parmesan drop-biscuit dough, has become my go-to main-meal cobbler.
- 2 kg tomatoes (any variety)
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- sea salt and black pepper
Buttermilk parmesan biscuits
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour
- 110 g (3⁄4 cup) cornmeal
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 pinch of paprika
- 100 g chilled butter, roughly chopped into large chunks
- 100 g (1 cup) grated parmesan, plus 50 g (1⁄2 cup) extra for topping
- 3 tbsp chopped chives
- 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk, plus extra for brushing
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 15 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 220°C. Depending on the variety and size of the tomatoes, cut larger ones in half and leave cherry tomatoes whole.
- Heat some oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion along with a pinch of sea salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15–20 minutes, until the onion is well caramelised. Add the garlic, thyme, balsamic and flour and cook for 60–90 seconds, until the flour is paste-like. Add the tomatoes, season with a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the biscuits, place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and paprika in a bowl and whisk together.Add the cold butter and, using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse sand. Stir in the parmesan and chives. Slowly pour the buttermilk into the flour mixture,mixing with a fork or spatula until no more dry flour remains. Set aside.
- Generously grease a large ovenproof dish with olive oil and add the tomato mixture. Drop large spoonfuls of the dough over the tomatoes, making sixto eight biscuits. Brush the biscuits with a little buttermilk. Place the dish on a baking tray to catch drips and bake for 40–45 minutes, sprinkling the top with extra parmesan 5 minutes before the end of cooking, until the tomatoes are bubbling and the biscuits are golden. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15–20 minutes. Serve while still warm.
• This cobbler is delicious eaten the next day, so it’s the perfect dish to make in advance.
• Once cool, store in the fridge for up to 2 days. To serve, reheat in the oven until hot.
• Add some porcini mushrooms to the tomatoes for extra ‘meatiness’.
• Substitute parmesan with Gruyere, pecorino or other sharp, hard cheese, Use gluten-free flour for gluten free.