Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer of the Green Tomatoes

Which is better than the summer of the wilted, baked garden.
But all the same I know North West gardeners are staring at their tomatoes (that didn't go down to blight in the 3rd week of July), and glaring at the calendar.

What to do with all the darn things?  (Check at the end for a freezer tip!)

Step 1:  Fried Green Tomatoes - Simplified

Crispy, crunchy, slightly sweet,
 pleasantly sour
and lovely tomatoness 

It was time to delve into the array of Fried Green Tomato recipes out there.  And many are these elaborate, double dipped, long soaking, deep fat frying, intimidatingly time chewing operations.  Great for the restaurant industry - but what does it do for the tomato?

Green tomatoes are nice and crunchy, but the secret is, the tomato goo, where the seeds live, is pleasantly sour.  And the seeds are immature and soft, so they don't have the seediness and bitter flavor that makes people want to remove them from the ripe fruit.

Coating them too thickly with batter and crumbs, then frying them for too long, and turning the tomato to mush does a disservice to the whole experience.

Fried Green Tomatoes in 10 Minutes Flat

Ingredients: For Each Tomato

1 hard, green tomato
1/3 C fine cornmeal (or 3 Tbs cornmeal & 3 Tbs flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (or 1/4 tsp pepper)

Enough oil to completely cover the bottom of your frying pan in a thin layer (2 Tbs of bacon drippings works for my 10" cast iron skillet).
This can be any high-ish smoke point oil - canola, peanut.  Including some bacony-goodness can only make things better.


Mix together all the dry ingredients on a small plate, or in a small flat bottomed plastic container that is roomy around the tomato.
Slice the ends off the tomatoes, and remove the core (stem).
Cut the tomato into 1/4" slices.


Heat your frying pan with the oil/fat over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes (check that it's hot enough by dropping in a little scrap of tomato.  If it sizzles - it is ready.

Dredge the tomato in the cornmeal mixture (Thoroughly cover the cut sides of the tomato with the cornmeal mixture).
Place the tomato in the hot fat, and let it cook for about 2.5 - 3 minutes.  Flip when the side is browned, but not too dark.  Cook the other side the same amount.

Drain on paper towels for a moment, so you don't absolutely torch the inside of your mouth.


But what if I can't eat that many fried green tomatoes Right Now!?

Freeze them!  After you have dredged the tomatoes, place them on waxed paper on a flat pan - with teh waxed paper separating layers, you can go 2 or 3 high.   Place this in the freezer for at least 5 hours (Overnight is better).  Store them in layers - still separated by the wax paper - in zip-top bags.  Remove as much air as possible from the bags.

When it's time to cook, fry them straight from frozen.  (Do Not Thaw!)  You will need to fry for the whole 3 minutes, and MAY need tp add an extra flip, re-frying the first side of each slice for an additional minute.

Can you imagine, Fried Green Tomatoes for Thanksgiving!

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