Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

The Farmer's Market has been one of my favorite things to do on weekends. Since I was a little girl, my mom and I would walk around and just look at all of the beautiful produce that as an adult, I would learn to make into some really, really tasty dishes.

I have never ever made fried green tomatoes but for some reason at the farmer's market last Sunday, I saw these gorgeous green heirloom tomatoes and the thought just popped into my head. The week before, I had made caprese salad with red and yellow tomatoes and since I bought cauliflower, broccoli and these insanely orange carrots for lunch, I wanted to add something warm and crunchy to it.

There was no real recipe I followed to make them. At the restaurants I worked at, I saw a few variations on fried green tomatoes and well sorry, chefs but I wanted something completely different. One chef used actual, under ripe green tomatoes which is traditionally used but I wanted the flavor of really ripe, fresh tomatoes and so I chose heirlooms. Another chef coated them in tempura batter and deep fried them. The problem for me with this method is that the tomatoes are so delicate that they need to be cut on the thicker side to make sure they don't fall apart in the fryer. Plus, tempura batter just doesn't have enough flavor. I wanted them to be closer to the real, Southern comfort food. So, without any actual form or structured recipe, here's how I did it:

Take 3, ripe and firm, green heirloom tomatoes and cut them about 1/4 of an inch. Lay them on a sheet pan and salt each side to draw out a little bit of moisture. This keeps them from getting soggy.
Prepare your breading assembly line...
1 cup of flour with a teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder goes into a shallow dish.
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of buttermilk goes in another.
And a mixture of mostly regular seasoned breadcrumbs, with some panko breadcrumbs and a little bit of cornmeal goes into another dish. All together you will want about 2 cups of crumb/cornmeal. Does this make sense?? let me know if it doesn't :)
Now, prepare the oil in a pan. There should be enough so that the oil will come up half way over the tomatoes. In a 10 inch pan, I used about a cup and a quarter. Heat this over medium-high heat and get it hot enough so they immediately begin to bubble and fry once the tomatoes hit, then you can turn it down to medium.
While the oil is heating, coat the tomatoes in the flour mixture, then dip them in egg mixture then finish in the breadcrumbs.  Now you have about 10-12 slices ready to fry.
Gently lay the slices in the oil and let them cook until golden brown on both sides.
Let them drain on a paper towel, top with some freshly grated Parmesan and serve with a tangy ranch dip.


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