Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes a Summer Special

“Are these ever going to turn red?” my daughter asked a few weeks ago while we watered tomato plants. I’ve been so proud of my TLC arresting the blossom end rot that ripening wasn’t an issue. My bar this summer was no sunken, black bottoms.

I fried the first of my own plants’ perfectly round, solid green tomatoes; it took practically two months to coax new growth to that stage, and I was so proud.  I felt I had to cook them before something else, like worms or whatever, happened. In fact, I may not get but a few vine-ripened tomatoes because of my zealous frying.

We’ve eaten some delicious fried green tomato dishes; I’ve put them in BLT’s, layered them with goat cheese and proscuitto for dinner, and served them topped with shrimp and remoulade sauce. This version topped with Fresh Corn Relish is a personal favorite. 

I keep a bottle of vegetable or peanut oil for frying.  When the oil has cooled and settled after cooking, I pour it back into the bottle through a cheesecloth-lined large funnel.  It’s ready to go for round two. 

When you are frying a small amount of green tomato slices, they are not likely to get soggy before you eat them.  But if you make them more than 10 minutes ahead, it is helpful to stand them upright on their edges; I prop them up in a rib grill rack, placed in a rimmed baking sheet. They can be reheated this way by placing the baking sheet in a preheated 250 degree F. oven, and they’ll stay crisp.

I’ll be caring for tomato plants a little differently next year to keep the dreaded fungus away.  But I’m glad I didn’t bag and throw out the plants this summer as was recommended. At least we’ve gotten some great FGT dinners out of them.

Fried Green Tomatoes
3/4 cup self-rising cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 medium green tomatoes, ends trimmed, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices (3 to 4 slices)
Vegetable oil for frying
Fresh Corn Relish
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

            Whisk together cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.  Whisk together egg and buttermilk in another shallow dish. 
            Heat 2 inches oil in a heavy, deep skillet or large saucepan over medium heat to 375 degrees F.  Working with a few at a time, coat green tomatoes in cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess.  Dip in buttermilk mixture and coat again with cornmeal mixture.  Fry until golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning once.  Let drain on paper towels.
To serve, divide fried green tomato slices on plates and top with Fresh Corn Relish and crumbled bacon. Makes 2 servings.

Fresh Corn Relish
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ear corn, husks and kernels removed from cob
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper or avocado
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce, optional
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

            Heat bacon drippings in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add corn, and saute until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. 
Serve warm or at room temperature.  Makes about 1 cup. 
debby maugans
from the author of Small-Batch
Birmingham News   Table
Small Batch Bistro
Asheville City Market