Fried Green Tomatoes – in Winter!

There aren’t many foods I love as much as a home grown tomato.  I have a particular affection for the fried green tomato.  Two summers ago I had such a bumper crop that by the end I was ready to throw the last of the green tomatoes into the street and let the cars have them.  I talked to my brother about that time and he said I could freeze the green tomatoes and fry them in the Winter.  This sounded pretty suspect to me so I met him half way.  I froze the tomatoes, but didn’t do anything with them.  Another Winter later and they’re still in the basement freezer.  Until today.

I fried bacon this morning.  There’s so much grease left after a pound of bacon that I usually feel compelled to use it for something.  I have nowhere to be today to it was just as good a time as any to try out the fried green tomatoes thing.  It was a learning process to be sure.  My first thought was to flash fry the tomatoes while they were still frozen.  Fail.  The cornmeal doesn’t stick well to a frozen tomato slice and in the oil it mostly turns mushy and stays in the pan.  Thaw the slices about 20 seconds in the microwave.  They’re a little delicate to handle, but if you have thick slices they’ll hold together.  My only dredge today was a mixture of cornmeal, panko and spices.  I have no eggs and no milk in the house so I couldn’t do a traditional dry, wet, dry dredge.  My guess is that the extra dredge would help protect the tomato.  But in the end, this actually works!  It’s not the same as frying them fresh, but it’s a good second best.

A couple of tips.  They first rule of frying is to make sure the oil is hot enough.  When fried foods are a little soggy and laden with grease it’s because the oil wasn’t hot enough to put a good crust on the food in the first few seconds.  You can help keep the oil at the right temperature by not overloading your pan.  Every time you add a piece to the pan you lower the temperature of the oil.  Make sure there’s room in the pan.  And before you add a second batch give the oil a few minutes to reheat.  Now, about the freezing.  Slice the green tomatoes into thick slices and lay them on a cookie sheet to freeze.  I wrapped mine individually in plastic wrap before I put them in a freezer bag.  This is partly to add some additional protection and partly to keep them from sticking together.

My brother is very good in the kitchen and had I trusted him from the beginning I could have had fried green tomatoes last Winter too.  Lesson learned.  Fortunately there are 1/2 dozen more slices in the freezer for another day.

Good? Good.
Easy? Sure.
Good for company? A good breakfast or brunch side for anyone.
Special shopping? Nope.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

Green tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick

Coating:
White corn meal, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder

Directions

Heat equal parts bacon grease and vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet. Make sure there is enough oil to come up the sides of the pan a little. The oil is hot enough when you drop a little flour or a little water in the oil and it sizzles loudly.
Dredge the tomatoes on both sides with the cornmeal mixture. Place in the hot oil. Fry a few minutes on each side. Drain on a cookie rack. Salt while their still hot.
Note: If you want to do a three part dredge start with your cornmeal mixture; then coat in egg; then coat in panko or traditional bread crumbs.

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