Simple Sides: Fried Green Tomatoes

Monday, May 07, 2012

If you've never tried this southern specialty, brace yourself for a real treat. When properly cooked, fried green tomatoes are crisp on the outside and tender inside, just bursting with tart and tangy flavor. Look for green tomatoes that are bright in color and firm to the touch. A little red discoloration is fine but stay away from fully ripened red tomatoes as the end result tends to be mushy. I served these alongside my Oven BBQ Chicken and Green Bean Medley as the perfect touch to Sunday's dinner.

I adapted a classic recipe from Southern Living, using pre-seasoned flour and omitting the egg. Not for any particular reason, I just forgot to add it the first time I made these and they came out fine, so I don't use it. I prefer less crust than the original recipe probably calls for, so I just dredged the tomatoes once before frying instead of twice. If you don't have seasoned flour, add salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder to all-purpose flour. Finally, I find that grape seed oil is a better choice than vegetable oil since it's not as heavy and has a higher smoke point. While it is still a fried dish, these little tweaks help to make it a little lighter than the original recipe. Serve these hot and fresh out of the frying pan. If you have extra buttermilk on hand it's easy to make a spicy, tangy dip that's a nice change from ranch dressing!

Fried Green Tomatoes 

3 large green tomatoes
1 c. seasoned flour
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. buttermilk
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Grape seed oil
Spicy Buttermilk Dip (optional, recipe follows)

Servings: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Equipment Needed: Large fry pan

Spicy Buttermillk Dip:
1/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. Greek yogurt, drained
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
Cayenne, to taste
Chipotle powder, to taste
Smoked paprika, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

To make the Spicy Buttermilk Dip, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and season to taste; refrigerate until needed. Makes a little over 1/2 cup of dip. This can be refrigerated up to a day or two.

Cut your tomatoes into thick slices, discarding the tops. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the tomato slices. In a small bowl or shallow dish, mix the seasoned flour and cornmeal. In a separate bowl, season the cup of buttermilk with a pinch of salt and pepper. Dip a slice at a time into the buttermilk, and then dredge lightly in the flour and cornmeal mix. Both sides should be coated. I only prepared four of these at a time to work at the pace that I could fry them in batches.

Heat the grape seed oil in the fry pan over medium high heat. I used enough to be about 1/4" deep in the pan, but not so high that it would cover the tomatoes (it's not a deep fry, you only want to fry one side at a time.) In a single layer so as not to crowd the pan, gently add the dredged tomatoes to the pan.

Fry 2 - 3 minutes or until golden brown on one side, then carefully flip over to fry the other side for an additional 2 minutes.

As you remove each batch from the pan, set them on a baking rack or large plate covered in paper towels to absorb extra oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and serve while hot.

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