Well, we’ve made it through May. The blog is still up and running. Exams didn’t kill me or leave me permanently maimed. Overall, a successful month, I would say.
Before I begin my second food post, I am going to step out of my area of “expertise” (if you can call it that!) to share something musical with you. THIS TUESDAY, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros will put out their second album. If you’ve never heard of them, you need to hear of them. They are fantastic. I saw them last weekend at the Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, AL, and they put on a great show! You can listen to their new album here: you won’t regret it! And you can watch a video of them performing one of the songs from the new album here. I cannot stop listening to it. Seriously.
OK with that said, let’s get on with it…. If you remember from last month, I made some snarky remarks about Alabama being one of the fattest states in the nation. This month, I’m sharing part of the secret as to how we got as fat as we are: Fried Green Tomatoes! Well, not really the movie. But, it is a good movie; especially if you’re like me and like to watch movies set in the south that are at the same time very sad and very funny (see also: Steel Magnolias). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll beg for more–I know I have! But for real, on with the show now.
Fried green tomatoes are really the perfect way to kick off the summer. They mean that soon you’ll have fresh ripe tomatoes coming in that are so good you’ll want to eat them like apples. Not a joke. Also, they’re not too heavy like some fried foods so they just feel like summer. And as this is my last summer break of my life, I’m savoring every minute, and bite, of it!
I learned how to make fried green tomatoes while working at a bakery in Birmingham the summer after my freshman year of high school, and my life has never been the same. (Partially because of having met my incredibly unpleasant manager who would only let me make the tomatoes, cut up fruit, or do dishes. And mostly dishes. In an unrelated story, she was later fired because she got a little too involved when her son pulled a knife on another guy in the kitchen. So much drama…) But, mainly because I love fried green tomatoes! So, my recipe is kind of adapted from the bakery’s recipe and the inspiration for fried green tomato BLTs came from them as well.
The most important thing about fried green tomatoes, and anything with tomatoes for that matter, is where you get your tomatoes from. You DON’T want to get them from somewhere like this; you want to get them from somewhere like this. (For the record that’s Durbin Farms in Chilton County, AL where you can get the best peaches in. the. world. Bar none. As my mother says, “Georgia isn’t the peach state, Chilton County is the peach state.” And she is right. And I was born in Georgia…)
Or, better yet, grow your own green tomatoes:
This is really the best place to get green tomatoes
That is a green tomato from my garden, but I didn’t use tomatoes I grew. I bought mine because I’m growing black tomatoes and I am dying to see them ripen! But, buy them fresh! If you can, always buy tomatoes that were grown within driving distance. (FYI: Red tomatoes at the grocery store were picked green and gassed with ethylene to make them turn red. Thanks, America.)
Whenever I cook anything, I like to gather all of my ingredients first. That way, if it starts to get a little crazy, you don’t have to run all over your kitchen trying to find what you need. Here’s what you’ll need for the tomatoes:
That’s: all purpose flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, buttermilk, an egg, Ritz Crackers (or whatever crackers you have around), vegetable oil, and of course the tomatoes. The recipe will be at the bottom of the post, so I won’t give measurements here, just scroll down for those.
Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can add white vinegar to regular milk (about 1 T vinegar per cup of milk) and it will work just as well.
First, I will get everything ready to bread the tomatoes. Mix the flour and seasonings together. I always season my flour when I’m frying anything, and I pretty much always use these same seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, paprika). Crush the crackers pretty fine, but not too fine, I like to be able to distinguish pieces of the crackers. And, beat the egg with the buttermilk.
Once you have your delicious tomatoes, wash them and slice them. Thickness is a matter of preference. You definitely want them thick enough to taste the tomato, but you don’t want them so thick that they don’t get hot and gooey.
about half the height of a penny is a good thickness for me, but do what you want
Now you get to dredge the tomatoes. This can get pretty messy, so you may want to have a big bowl of warm water and a towel nearby for your hands. You need to coat each slice with the flour mixture, dunk them into the buttermilk/egg, back into the flour, back into the buttermilk, and finally give each slice a good coating with the crackers. Once you have each slice breaded, you’re ready to fry them.
sliced tomatoes, ready to dredge!
all breaded and good to go!
Now, on to frying. A lot of people are terrified of frying. It’s not that scary. And if you’re frying vegetables, you definitely don’t have to worry about this happening! You can use a deep fryer if you have one. That’s what we did at the restaurant. But most people use a skillet, and that’s what I prefer. So get a big skillet (preferably cast iron) with a large, flat base and fill it with about 1/2″ of vegetable oil. Turn the stove on to a medium-low setting and let the oil heat up. To test if the oil is hot enough, just drop a piece of the cracker or breading and see how it fries up. It should start frying immediately, but it should not burn. If it burns, it’s too hot, turn down the heat and wait. If it sinks to the bottom and just sits there, you either haven’t waited long enough, or you’re being to cautious and need to turn up the heat.
**BEFORE YOU FRY: you need a place to put your deliciously golden food. Get a plate out and put a paper towel over it. You don’t want to scramble around looking for somewhere to put the tomatoes and have them burn up in the oil.**
Once the oil is hot, drop in a few tomatoes. Be careful not to overload your oil. If you add too many tomatoes at once, the oil will cool down too much and you won’t get good, crispy tomatoes. I can fry 3-4 at a time:
This is one of the best smells in the world!
You’ll start to see the edges turning brown after about 45 seconds, that’s when it’s time to flip them. When you flip them over, make sure they look nice and brown on that side and if they don’t, flip ’em back. That’s all there is to it. Let the food tell you when it’s cooking and when it’s done. It should take about 45 seconds to a minute on each side.
Soon, you’ll have a plate full of fried green tomatoes!
I made more than 3, but they smelled so good, we were eating them before I realized that I hadn’t taken a picture of them. I’m still new at this whole thing.
Now comes the hard part: you have to decide how you want to eat them. They are delicious plain. They are delicious with ranch dressing. They are delicious with the sauce that I’m about to give you the recipe for. And, they are delicious in a BLT. We went with BLTs. I got some thick sliced bacon and baked it at 350º until it was done (I like mine floppy). Toast your bread (I recommend getting some good bread for this: sourdough, or pumpernickel would be my top choices. We used cheap whole wheat sandwich bread…) I put three half slices of bacon, two tomatoes, some of the sauce that I made, and some cheese on each sandwich and put that back into the oven until the cheese melted.
Oh yeah! Super good
Once the cheese melts, add some lettuce and you’re good to go!
Fried Green Tomato BLT with a side of Fried Green Tomatoes
Now for the sauce. I made this sauce up when my mom made onion rings while I was home a couple of weeks ago. It’s basically like the sauce at any chicken finger place. Here are your ingredients:
mayonnaise, ketchup, worcestershire sauce (not pictured), salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic, and onion. *The garlic powder should not be there, sorry*
First you need to mince 1 clove of garlic and some of the onion as fine as you can. I mean, really, really fine. The amount of onion is hard to measure. I probably used about 1/8 of the small onion in the picture, I ended up with probably 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced onion once it was all said and done, but you can do more or less, depending on your tastes.
After you’ve minced the garlic and onion, you just mix everything together. Here are your measurements:
Special Sauce (for lack of a better name, and creativity)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- about 1 1/2 T minced onion
- 1 scant C mayonnaise (I mainly say “scant” because I loathe mayonnaise)
- 1/2 C plust about 1 T ketchup
- 3 good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
- a good palmful of Italian seasoning
- 2 t salt
- 2 t black pepper
Mix all that up, taste it, and adjust any of the ingredients as you like.
And finally, here is your fried green tomato recipe:
Fried Green Tomatoes
- 3 fresh green tomatoes
- 1-1 1/2 C buttermilk (or milk with white vinegar added)
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 sleeve of Ritz Crackers (or other type of cracker)
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 1 palmful of paprika (about 1 1/2 T)
- 1 small palmful of garlic powder (about 1 T)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
Beat the egg and mix with the buttermilk.
Crush the crackers into crumbs.
Mix together flour and remaining ingredients.
Slice the tomatoes to the desired thickness (about 1/3″)
Dredge the tomato slices on both sides in the flour mixture, dip in the buttermilk/egg mixture, dip back in the flour, then back in the buttermilk, and finally coat with crackers.
Fill a large, flat-bottomed skillet with about 1/2″ of vegetable oil. Fry the tomatoes in the oil for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side or until they are golden brown. Eat them, and be satisfied.
I realize that was long, but I only have your attention once a month. I have to make good use of it!
Until next time,
Two Three more things:
- there were enough tomatoes to feed 4 people
- the sauce gets better as it sits overnight, the tomatoes (like all other fried foods) do not, eat them fast!
- Here’s a photo of the sauce: