Fried Green Tomatoes
When did you have your first green tomato, sliced, breaded, and fried in the tradition of the US south? Did you grow up with them, or were you perhaps inspired because of the eponymous novel from 1987 or its film adaptation with Jessica Tandy in 1991?
Although my grandma was from Arkansas and my mamma's culinary repertoire included a few southern recipes, I didn't grow up eating my tomatoes fried, and I speculate that this was because grandma never made them and our Northern California tomato season extended well into autumn. The relevance here is that there was no pressure to save tomatoes before the first frost where we lived; we didn't experience frost until late December!
I was well into my adult years before Donald fried a green tomato for me (yes, inspired by the movie), which we made last night and photographed for you here. Let's start with choosing the right fruit.
Popular Tomato Variety Choices
Here are five popular tomato varieties that are frequently mentioned as ideal for fried green tomatoes:
- Green Zebra tomatoes have distinctive green stripes and are tangy and slightly sweet with a firm flesh that holds up well to frying.
- Aunt Ruby's German Green tomatoes are exceptionally flavorful with a rich, sweet, and slightly spicy taste. They're deep green in appearance, even when ripe, and are meaty with few seeds.
- The Fried Green Tomato variety is specifically bred for frying, with a tangy flavor and firm flesh that comes through beautifully.
- Beefsteak tomatoes remain mild and have a relatively low acidity, even before they ripen. Their large size and firm texture make them a popular choice for harvesting and preparing while still green.
- Cherokee Green is a luminous green version of the popular Cherokee Purple tomato, offering a sweet and spicy taste with a juicy yet firm slice that holds up well to frying.
Fried Green Tomatoes
While there isn't a single "quintessential" fried green tomato recipe upon which every Southern cook would agree, there's certainly a basic method that's widely accepted. I started to write more about variations, however, will save that for another day. Here is one version of what would be called "fundamental".
4 large green tomatoes
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup corn meal
½ cup bread crumbs (we used panko)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Enough Lucero EVOO to fill a sauté pan 1 each deep (or use bacon grease to be traditional)
¼ tsp Smoked Seasoning (Optional)
Wash, dry, and slice tomatoes horizontally, approximately ¼” thick
Prepare three shallow bowls; one for beaten eggs and buttermilk, one for flour, and one for cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and seasonings
Dredging & Coating
Dredge the tomato slice in the flour mixture and then into the buttermilk and egg mixture, ensuring each side is well coated
Finish the slice by coating in the cornmeal / seasoning mixture and set aside until all slices are ready for frying.
Heat the oil over medium in a large sauté pan. When a small bit of cornmeal sizzles the oil is ready, about 375F.
Carefully place the coated tomato slices into the hot oil taking care to not crowd the pan. Fry in batches.
Fry on each side for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the finished slices and drain over a rack.
Fried green tomatoes are best served hot and garnished with a bit of salt. Some households enjoy with a favorite dipping sauce.
Use as an appetizer, a side dish, or in a sandwich.
Did your mamma keep bacon grease in a Folger's Coffee can in the kitchen? Mine did, and were she living she'd probably encourage us to use it for these tomatoes, if for no other reason to try them the truly traditional way at least once.
Olive oil is an expensive choice for frying, however, an immensely healthy one. Despite what some food journalists have written, olive oil's flavor and health benefits are not wasted in frying, they're imparted into the food we prepare. Mediterranean countries deep and shallow fry with nothing else but olive oil! We used Arbequina for this recipe as it is the most economical of the four EVOOs we offer.