Tomato Cobbler With Ricotta Biscuits
Nicole Rucker, the chef at Fiona in Los Angeles, makes biscuits with a particularly tender, cakelike crumb. Her secret: ricotta. Strain the cheese well to get rid of excess moisture, and don’t be afraid to dust the dough with flour as you work, to keep it from getting oversaturated and sticky. The biscuits, baked atop a mix of tomatoes seasoned with sugar and vinegar, rise tall, with soft insides and crunchy, golden crusts. The dish lies somewhere between a savory course and sweet one, and you can serve it either way.
- Serves: 10 persons
- ¾cup whole-milk ricotta
- 2 ½cups/320 grams plus 2 tablespoons cake flour, plus more for dusting
- 1tablespoon plus 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½teaspoons baking powder
- 1teaspoon baking soda
- ½cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into cubes and chilled
- 1cup/240 milliliters buttermilk, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing
- 2to 2 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes or Sungold tomatoes
- ¼cup/60 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil
- 1tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2sprigs fresh thyme
Step 1Prepare the ricotta: Strain the ricotta in a cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer for at least 30 minutes. When it’s ready to use, squeeze to get rid of any excess moisture.
Step 2Prepare the ricotta biscuits: Put 2 1/2 cups cake flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Transfer to the freezer to chill for about 20 minutes. Add the butter to the bowl and smear the pieces between your fingers, pinching them to make thin pieces and smushing these into the flour mixture until no big pieces are left.
Step 3Make a well in the middle of the bowl and gradually pour in 1 cup buttermilk while using a fork to fluff in the flour from the sides of the bowl until you form a shaggy-looking dough. Crumble in the ricotta and loosely incorporate with your fingers.
Step 4Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to shape it into a roughly 4-inch-by-6-inch rectangle. Fold into thirds and flatten back to the same size with your hands; repeat two more times, flattening the dough out until about 1-inch thick. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.
Step 5Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut about half the tomatoes in half. In a 2-quart baking dish, combine all the tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and thyme sprigs with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cake flour. Season generously with salt and pepper, and let sit while you prepare the biscuit dough.
Step 6Lay the biscuit dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2-inch squares or circles and arrange in a single layer over the tomatoes — you should have around 10 to 12 biscuits. Roll and cut scraps, or just bake the scraps separately to snack on. Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk on top of the biscuits, and bake for 45 minutes, until the tomato mixture has bubbled up and the biscuits are browned on top. Allow to cool, and serve warm or at room temperature, finishing with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.