Yes, the fancy French name literally means “stuffed tomatoes” (see the little French beret?) but it sure beats the pants off a stuffed pepper.

À la recette, s’il vous plaît.

Sometimes I wonder when El Gallo is out hunting (picture a taller, skinnier and redheaded Elmer Fudd), if he realizes that it means he will, after a time, be eating a venison recipe consisting of fancy little balls wearing hats. Okay, okay, fancy big balls wearing hats. Either way, probably not.

venison recipe

I made these things once when, and both me and El Gallo thought they were a definite step up from the boring old stuffed pepper. When I tried to find the recipe I used the first time, however, I couldn’t find the exact one. I could swear up and down it came from the Barefoot Contessa, but Google says otherwise.

After perusing a bunch of recipes, I also realized that the stuffed tomato in France is just like the stuffed bell pepper in America in two ways: 1. It’s typically only eaten at home (not at a restaurant) and 2. Every household has a different recipe. See, we have lots of things in common with the French. Like our willingness to protest almost anything, and our unwillingness to speak anyone else’s language. (Although I think Americans have beat the French in that area because we don’t actually speak anyone else’s language, but I digress…)


I couldn’t find any one recipe quite to my liking; gruyere was a good idea for sure, but I didn’t want rice or breadcrumbs or any of that jazz mucking up my little tomato encased venison balls. Then of course I decided that, when all else fails in French cooking, just add butter and wine. And mushrooms. Mushrooms sounded good, as well.

Really you can put whatever the hell you want in these things; just make sure you can find nice big tomatoes (summer time is a good time to find them). If you more moist innards, reserve the tomato’s insides and add them to the meat mixture. Do resist the urge to overdo it on the cheese; just a little in the mincemeat and enough on top to melt and look nice is plenty.

Tomates Farcies

Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 5 minutes


  • 8 large tomatoes (large enough for stuffing, no romas!)
  • 2lb ground venison
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 pint mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded gruyere
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram


Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion, mushroom, and a little salt to let them sweat. After they start to wilt a little, add the red wine and stir occasionally until the wine has been somewhat soaked up by the mushrooms and reduced to the point that the mixture isn't watery. Set aside to let cool.
Step 2
With a serrated knife, cut the tops off the tomatoes and set aside. Pull out the seeds and ribbing inside the tomato (you can use a spoon), being careful not to split the tomato. If you like a wetter mixture in your stuffed veg, reserve the ribbing and seeds to put in the meat mixture. Sprinkle the inside of the tomatoes with salt and lay upside down over a paper towel to drain.
Step 3
Mix together the cooled onion and mushroom mixture, ground meat, eggs herbs, salt and pepper and 1 cup of the cheese. Spoon the mixture into each of the tomatoes until they are full. Put in a baking dish or on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and add the little caps you set aside earlier. Bake for about another 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, the meat is cooked all the way through and the tomatoes have started to wilt. Garnish with any leftover herbs and serve with rice (or barley, or any grain that suits your fancy).
Non game substitution: Ground beef is the obvious choice, but you can really use ground anything.
Vegetarian substitution: You could totally do this with a rice/vegetable/mushroom mixture. Or throw in some mashed white beans to bulk it up a little.

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Mama Lou

They’re so cute! Great w a side of rice, barley or quinoa.