Monday, August 2, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

I think I was meant to be southern. Fried chicken was one of the first things I learned how to make (although, I prefer flattened chicken breasts to bone in) along with chicken and dumplings and killer garlic mashed potatoes. I love Paula Deen, peach cobbler, crab/shrimp boils, fried green tomatoes, comfort food in general and collard greens have been on my Thanksgiving table 2 years in a row. And that whole rolling lawns, huge trees, white houses, boating, shrimping, proper, sweet tea, southern belle, cute accent, steel magnolia thing...I'll take that too. If I moved to the south I'd change my kids names to Caroline Marie, Wade Clifton MacGray III and Peyton and we'd fit right in. Of course that would mean Jeremy's name would have to be Wade Clifton MacGray II and I don't think I could pull that one off. Jeremy Scott MacGray III doesn't quite have that same southern charm does it? Oh well, maybe I'll just stick to making the food.

I was at Sweet Pea, our local farmers market after a bike ride through town with my family. I walked in to see what they had, fingers crossed that there would be green tomatoes. Lo and behold there they were right when I walked in the door in a big wooden basket! I immediately packed a bag full, paid up and biked home to cook them. I don't mess around with green tomatoes. I see them maybe once a year up here in Steamboat and I know to buy as many as possible when I do. Then I eat them for days. We had them tonight for dinner, since we had a late lunch and It's all I really wanted anyway. I'll have them again for lunch tomorrow and the next day. My goal is to basically stuff myself full so I don't want them again until next summer. Then I don't feel so bad about it.

I've made fried green tomatoes many, many times throughout my life starting when I saw the movie, of the same name (Fried Green Tomatoes) starring Kathy Bates, Mary Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson. I don't know how old I was, but I was young. My Grandma Grillo who is from Missouri, but likes to think she's southern (well maybe that is???) was nice enough to make me my first batch and I fell in love. If you have never had one before, let me tell you about them in all their glory. They are sturdy with a great toothy, substantial bite to them. They are hot and slightly tangy sour, salty and cornmealy and most importantly, fried. So it crackles in your mouth. It's sooooooo good. That's really the only thing you have to know.

Green tomatoes are just red tomatoes that are not ripe yet. They are never mealy, which is what I hate about fresh tomatoes. Considering the fact that this dish is incredibly simple, it's weird that there are so many versions out there. Different batters and breading each of which have loyal followers. I like them best dipped into and egg and buttermilk mixture and dredged into a cornmeal/flour/garlic powder mixture. But by all means, if you like italian bread crumbs use those (it just won't get as crisp on the outside).

Fried Green Tomatoes

2-3 green tomatoes, sliced a scant 1/2" thick
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 eggs
1 tablespoon buttermilk
kosher salt
olive oil

combine the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a shallow bowl and set aside. Combine the 2 eggs and buttermilk with a pinch of salt and whisk together until well combined and set aside.

Heat a heavy skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, then add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan thickly. Dip and cover each of the tomato slices with the egg mixture first, then the cornmeal mixture, then dip again into the egg and once more into the cornmeal mixture so you have dredged each tomato slice twice. When the oil is hot in the pan add tomato slices and saute for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until crust is golden and sprinkle generously with salt while still hot. When done, drain on paper towels and eat fresh while still warm.

If your tomatoes are bland at all, add more salt but they shouldn't be. I like to pick these up and eat them with my hands but you can also place them on a plate and eat them with a fork and knife. You can also make a sandwich with them. Just place them between two pieces of hearty bread, like a baguette or sturdy whole grain and add some bacon and lettuce to make a BLT of delicious sorts, or grill with pepper jack cheese and make a ridiculous high calorie grilled cheese with fried green tomato. However you eat these, you won't be sorry and the possibilities are endless so have some fun ya'll! Yeah, Iv'e got this southern thing down pat.