Tried and True: Fried Green Tomatoes
It's been a little while since I've done a Tried and True post. Fried Green Tomatoes. Good book, good movie and in the South, it's a summer time food favorite. I suspect, given the way my family preserved their summer produce, this began as a Fall menu item, to use up the last of the tomato crop when it was time for frost. Big Mama also made a green tomato relish but I haven't got her recipe for that. I usually do it the easy way and just buy a jar when I see it in a Farmer's Market shop since I'm the only one who enjoys it.
Fried Green Tomatoes. Every household does them just a little differently. I should know. I am fourth generation cooking these and I don't do as Big Mama, Granny nor Mama did. I do them my way. I like my way better than any other but I don't turn my nose up at these tomatoes if someone else cooks them. I just eat 'em anyway!
Years ago, a friend from the MidWest came to visit. I was cooking fried green tomatoes. I had a tiny kitchen and the only available counter space was just behind me to my left, out of visual range. I would pick up tomato slices from my frying pan and drop them on the plate on that counter back of me. Randy came into the kitchen and asked "What's that?" I told him it was Fried Green Tomatoes. "Ewww!" was his reply. His wife reminded him he'd promised to try anything once if I'd cooked it...So Randy agreed that they deserved a try. He stood behind me the whole time I was cooking, chatting away...Or so I thought. The man ate every single slice of the four tomatoes I fried that night! All of them! I never heard him say, "Ewww" again when anyone mentioned fried green tomatoes.
How you slice them depends on how they turn out. Thin as paper and they are just this side of a potato chip crisp and yet a tiny bit moist. Thicker and they are tender, warm, not quite wet, bits with a crunchy coating. I like them about 1/8 inch thick which is neither too thick nor too thin in my opinion.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Heat oil in a good sized skillet. I prefer to just coat the pan and add more as needed. Some folks like to sort of deep fry them like they would chicken. It's your choice on that. You do want it hot enough to fry but not hot enough to burn, I'd say around 350F.
Slice 1 green tomato (sufficient for two or three folks) to the thickness desired.
Mix 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/4 cup flour, a dash of pepper, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp dried oregano on a plate or in a shallow pie pan.
Pour 3/4 cup buttermilk into a bowl. Add sliced tomatoes (or as many as will fit) to bowl. You can let this sit for a few minutes while you busy yourself with other things if you like.
Dredge the wet tomato slices into the meal mixture. Place slices in the hot oil, not crowding pan, working in batches. Usually about the time the pan is full of slices, the first ones are ready to flip. You may need to add oil before putting in second batch if you are just coating the pan well, so do let the oil heat up before starting the next batch cooking. I drain the cooked tomato slices on a paper towel lined pan and keep warm in the oven until all are cooked and ready to serve.
I have seen, of late, two sandwiches using fried green tomatoes: one a BLFGT (fried green tomato) and one a FGT Poor boy. They both looked delicious to me. For myself however, I love to eat them as a side dish on a plate of country vegetables: fresh corn, fresh beans and potatoes, fresh squash. Oh my! Just give me a piece of cornbread and that is one good dinner.