Given that this delicacy has not quite made it to the 'fill the supermarket shelves' popularity, the season is all the more precious. Once the plants are done - that's it until next year.
If you've been reading this blog or know me personally you will know that the buttermilk soak + cornmeal batter + bacon fry in a cast iron pan is my go-to cooking technique for a lot of things - chicken, fish, even okra sometimes. With their firm texture and lemony tart flavour, green tomatoes are perfect for this treatment.
I've had them twice this week. For dinner on Sunday with a simple pork chop. Then after the gym on Tuesday in one of my all time favorite sandwiches: BLT Delux: Thick cut bacon, rocket (arugula) from the farmer's market, and fried green tomatoes on sourdough toast, dressed with a lemony, garlicy yoghurt mayonnaise.
That same lemon garlic mayonnaise dressing is perfect as a simple dip for fried green tomatoes on their own, as a meal in themselves. If you must have a meat, keep it light: Cold roast chicken, or poached trout will do nicely. To drink? I'm partial to a nice, crisp Gavi.
I just did a quick search on the internet and am surprised at how few good recipes there are online. Avoid anything that calls for breadcrumbs, and you really don't need to mess around with eggs.
As usual, I take my cue from Louis Osteen. The below is my quick take on his ever so slightly more complex recipe in his "Charleston Cuisine". I'm sure in a blind tasting his would trump mine hands down - but most the time I'm too hungry or rushed to mess around with a lot of waiting.
Fried Green Tomatoes
- Green tomatoes, cut into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
- Enough buttermilk to cover (or substitute a mixture of yoghurt and lowfat milk, runny enough to pour but gloopy enough to cling to the tomatoes)
- Several good shakes of hot sauce
- a mixture of equal measures of fine ground cornmeal and plain flour
- salt to taste
- cayenne pepper or smoky paprika to taste
Mix together the flour cornmeal mixture, salt, and the cayenne or paprika on a plate.
When ready, remove the tomatoes from the buttermilk, and dredge in the cornmeal mixture. If you have time, it does help the crust to form a better if you give them a good 15 to 20 minutes in the fridge. If you don't have time, do try to give them at least 5.
Louis recommends a mixture of peanut oil and butter for frying. I prefer bacon grease. You could also use vegetable oil. In any case, pick your poison and get it good and hot in a skillet (though I do hope you have been paying attention and have by now acquired a well-seasoned cast iron pan). Fry the tomatoes in a single, uncrowded layer. They cook fast so be prepared to flip in under a minute.
As they finish, place them on paper towels. I would recommend you try not to cook so many you have to keep them warm in the oven, as you will endanger the crispy crust, and that's half the joy. But if you are serving a party, needs must.
Enjoy as suggested above or do please write to let me know how you eat yours. Dig in!
Want more serving suggestions for green tomatoes? Here are some good ones:
Southern Living: 6 Ways with Green Tomatoes
Gourmet: Green Tomato and Honeydew Melon Salad
Roots & Wings Organic has a recipe for Green Tomato Chutney on their facebook page, October 9th