Dicing Tomatos for Chili

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,048
    Firehouse chef Tom Papoutsis demonstrates how to dice tomatoes to make the chili base.

    Tom Papoutsis

    Tom Papoutsis is a “Firehouse Chef” that currently holds the rank of Lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Tom’s experience in the Fire Service spans over 29 years, 19 of which have been with Fairfax County. The bulk of his firehouse culinary expertise has been practiced during his tenure there. He was a national finalist in the 2004 Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition finishing in the top 10 of the nations Firehouse Chef’s, and traveled to New York City to compete in a cook off with his peers. He has also been placed on the “charity” auction block several times to prepare meals for the highest bidder. Tom likes to specialize in Italian and Greek cuisine being of the same heritage, but also enjoys preparing Asian and of course “Good Ole American” foods as well. He concentrates on entrées but also has a few hors d’oeuvres and dessert specialties as well, such as his versions of Bruschetta and Amaretto Cheesecake. For the past year he has been studying the practice of making homemade Italian deli meats and sausages. Tom’s motto: “It’s just cooking, not rocket science, take a chance…..you might like it!” Residing in Chambersburg, PA with his wife JoAnn, twins Jonathan & Katie and “Buddy” their Golden Retriever. Tom enjoys cycling, hunting, fishing, woodworking, raising his children and helping form today’s youth while volunteering with son Jonathan’s Cub Scout pack. Tom can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

    Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis: Hi! Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis back. We are making firehouse chili. At this point, we are going to start preparing our vegetables. We have our meat ready to go, the meat is ground beef. All is we have got to do is unpackage it, we are going to get that moving here in a couple of minutes, but now, we are going to start with our tomatoes. We have got our plum tomatoes; we are going to go ahead. What I like to do if I am dicing my tomatoes, these are so easy to dice. What I do is I just take the top off of them, I will split them down in the middle, lay them out flat like this, I go one, two and then I just basically chop them like this, thats it. Thats how easy it is, right there. If you want them a little bit smaller, make a couple of more cuts this way and then we are just going to chop them here, there we go.

    This knife is Santoku Knife, which actually has these little ridges in it that keeps the tomato and whatever you are cutting from sticking to the knife, they work excellent, they are fantastic.

    So, as you can see, we have quite a few tomatoes here, we are going to cut these up a little bit later on, but basically, I wanted to give you just a quick down and dirty, we are going to take the top off, we are going to split it down in the middle, and then we are going to take, cut it lengthwise and then we are going to just come back, keep your fingers back as you are cutting, and you are going to dice your tomatoes just like that. There we go, we have got a runner; we are going to put them back in, very nice. Keep your fingers back, remember, keep those fingers turn back so they stay out of the way.