Beefsteak Tomatoes for that Balanced BLT Burger
Spring has Sprung!
Looking for a tasty fresh fruit/vegetable that cuts like meat?
Well, get your Kyocera Ceramic knives ready and behold the magnificent Beefsteak tomato, aka the Beefmaster, Mortgage Lifter and Coeur De Boeuf, among other common varieties.
Known for their firm “meaty” texture, light-red color and thick skins, Beefsteaks comprise any of several varieties of large Shaq-sized tomatoes. Beefsteak hybrids grow on indeterminate plants and produce massive fruits weighing 1 lb. or more.
With thick, plump flesh, a Beefsteak has smaller seed cavities and therefore a greater ratio of flesh to juice and seeds than other kinds of tomatoes. It tastes excellent cooked or raw and provides an intense “tomato-ey” flavor. Beefsteaks aren’t quite as sweet as other varieties, but certainly deliver an incredible flavor complement when sliced and added to a sandwich or a char-broiled burger (see recipe below).
The Beefsteak tomato hybrid, originally cultivated by New York farmer Johann Heinrich Muster, is the largest variety of the Solanaceae family. Beefsteak tomatoes, which mature 75 to 95 days after planting, grow best in full sunlight and rich, well-draining soil with the support of stakes or cages.
Beefsteaks are not grown commercially as often as other types because they are not considered as suitable for mechanization as are smaller slicing tomatoes.
How to choose:
Beefsteak tomato varieties are typically (though not always) slightly flattened and sometimes lumpy, with a slightly irregular shape. We’re so used to perfectly shaped supermarket tomatoes that many of us consider an imperfect shape undesirable. Misguided thinking, that. The tomatoes that look the ugliest, including beefsteaks, are often the best tasting. If you don’t grow your own, try a farmer’s market in season for the tastiest tomatoes. Choose those with intact skins and no bruises and that are firm but yielding under gentle pressure, and with a deep color (though not necessarily red, as it comes in all colors).
How to prep:
To remove the core, use a sharp Kyocera ceramic paring knife to carve a V-shape around it.
How to store:
Leave tomatoes at room temperature until you’re ready to use them. Refrigeration causes loss of flavor and a mealy texture.
Beefsteak BLT Burger Recipe
Here’s a recipe for a delicious Beefsteak BLT Burger from Fine Cooking.
- 1 large or 2 medium Beefsteak tomatoes, thickly sliced
- 1-1/2 lb. ground chuck (80 to 85 percent lean)
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices best-quality cheddar cheese
- 4 brioche-style hamburger buns
- 8 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and drained on paper towels
- 4 leaves green leaf lettuce
- 1 avocado, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 recipe Kicked-Up Ketchup
Put the ground meat in a mixing bowl; sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Mix gently and briefly to avoid overworking the meat. Shape the seasoned beef into four patties that are about 1 inch thick.
Prepare a hot charcoal or gas grill fire. Grill the burgers, covered with vents open, until nicely marked and cooked to your liking (about 7 to 8 minutes total for medium-rare). Don’t press on the burgers while they’re cooking—you want to keep the juices inside the burger, not on your grill. Top each burger with a slice of cheddar in the last minute of cooking so that it melts slightly.
Transfer the burgers to a plate and tent them with aluminum foil while you toast the buns briefly on the grill, cut side down. Serve the burgers on the buns, topped with bacon, lettuce, hefty Beefsteak tomato slice, avocado and ketchup.
Serve with Boston Baked Beans, Creamy Potato Salad and a big pitcher of Southern-Style Sweet Iced Tea.