Fried Green Tomatoes
Mike’s tomato plants are in and growing quite nicely, especially the cherry and
pear varieties. Hopefully this year’s crop will continue to be bountiful, as I can’t imagine
we’ll ever tire of enjoying homegrown tomatoes. Normally, I wouldn’t be talking about
green tomatoes this early in the season, but having just been gifted with a neighbor’s
unripened crop, I decided to give fried green tomatoes a try.
Picked before ripe or once it’s too cool for them to ripen, green tomatoes have a
very firm texture that can stand up to frying. It starts with the width of the slice: an expert
chef swears by 3/8 th of an inch. Any thinner and you’ll produce the soggy variety you’re
avoiding at all costs.
Secondly, you need to saturate the sliced tomatoes in a buttermilk
and hot sauce mixture for at least an hour—the longer the better.
Although a simple cornmeal dredge is adequate for most vegetables, because of
the high-water content in tomatoes, you’ll want to add some cornstarch to the mix for a
crackly crust. The buttermilk and cornstarch mixture will form like glass when the tomato
slices hit the hot oil. Speaking of oil, start the frying on medium-high heat and, once the
slices start to sizzle, turn down the heat to medium. As they brown, flip the slices in the
order you dropped them in the pan, not more than three minutes each side to preserve the
tomato’s firmness and avoid the soggy mess.
Some seasons all you’ve got in your garden are firm and flavorless green
tomatoes. What better way to enjoy than salting, saturating, and sizzling. And if Mike’s
tomato plants disappoint, at least I know what to do with the green ones.
Serve up with a bold dash of hot sauce and buttermilk dressing alongside.
Fried Green Tomatoes
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
3 lb. green tomatoes
1 cup find-grind white cornmeal
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
1. In a shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk and pepper sauce and set aside.
2. Core the tomatoes and slice off the very top and bottom of the tomato. Makes
slices 3/8-inch thick. Coat the slices in the buttermilk mixture; cover with plastic
wrap and refrigerate an hour before frying.
3. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornmeal, cornstarch, cayenne pepper and salt.
Dredge the slices in the cornmeal mixture liberally coating each side.
4. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until a few cornmeal
grains sizzle when dropped in the oil.
5. Fry the slices in batches until deeply golden, approximately 3 minutes per side.
Transfer the tomatoes to a baking sheet lined with paper towel and allow to drain
briefly. Serve hot.