>As our first frost was threatening the other night, I found myself in the garden at dusk, picking tomatoes and peppers with wind-chilled fingers. It brought back pleasant memories of my childhood in Connecticut when my mother would send me out to harvest her tomatoes. I have no memory of what she did with the bumper crop of green tomatoes but I knew what I wanted to do with mine!
Anyway, I love fried green tomatoes. I love them for a starter, in a BLT for lunch and on my plate at dinnertime (yes, Sam I Am, I love them like green eggs and ham). During the summer however, I am generally loathe to sacrifice any of my unripened tomatoes: a vine-ripened tomato still hot from the sun being an unbeatable delight.
So I wait patiently for this once a year harvest and indulge my desire for FGTs elsewhere until then. (My favorite spot for Fried Green Tomatoes here in Asheville, NC is the Early Girl Eatery on Wall Street, although Tupelo Honey can give them some competition. ) But now it’s October and game on!
This dish is fairly easy to make, especially with the help of some tips I gathered from one of my favorite food blogs: Serious Eats.
Start by washing the tomatoes and slicing them fairly thickly (about 1/2 inch ). If you are going to use them in a BLT or as a side dish for dinner, you will probably want to use your bigger tomatoes. Since I was planning on serving some of these tomatoes to our guests at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast as an hors d’oeurve in the evening I used my small tomatoes to eliminate the need for a fork. Salt the slices and lay them on a rack over a paper towel for about 15 minutes. This will pull out some of the excess moisture. While the tomatoes are resting, gather together the rest of your ingredients. You will need a bowl of plain flour, a bowl with one or two eggs beaten with a little milk and a third bowl with a mixture of cornmeal and bread crumbs along with whatever flavorings you like. Some people like their tomatoes spicy and add cayenne pepper to the mix. Personally I just use salt and pepper to allow the tomato flavor to come out.
You can also use this time to make your dipping sauce. Traditionally this is a remoulade or tarter sauce, but once again, feel free to experiment. I made a sauce with some bread and butter pickles I had made earlier this fall, a little chipotle dip mix and some mayonnaise.
Once the tomatoes have beads of water on them, pat them dry with a paper towel and dip them first in the flour, then in the egg and lastly in your cornmeal mixture and place them back on the rack for ten minutes. This will “set” the egg and make the breading stay on (thank you Serious Eats!).
Heat some butter, 2-3 tablespoons, and a “glug” of olive oil over a medium burner. You don’t want your oil too hot or the breading will burn before the tomatoes have cooked. The pan is ready when the butter starts to sizzle.
Arrange on a platter and enjoy them while they are hot but be careful not to burn your tongue.
(You may wonder why there is no picture of my lovely tomatoes arranged to be eaten: they were whipped out of the kitchen before I had a chance to take one) .
And that’s the way we do it at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina!