One Saturday I heard the Roadfood segment of The Splendid Table on NPR. Somewhere in South Carolina, Jane and Michael Stern had eaten burgers topped with pimiento cheese and fried green tomatoes—and they were raving about how good they were.
I had seen green tomatoes all summer and fall at the nearby Winn-Dixie and decided to make fried green tomatoes as a stop on the way to making these burgers. It has indeed been a stop as I haven’t made the burgers. This recipe for tomatoes has been adapted from Southern Living.
First of all, let’s put an end to the question: What is a green tomato? Green tomatoes are unripe red tomatoes that are somewhat hard (which makes them good for frying) and tart. An heirloom green tomato is a ripe sweet tomato, soft to the touch, with a taste like a perfect red tomato. You want the hard green ones.
Don’t be frightened off by the frying hassle. I’m not one to just fry up dinner in a vat of oil, and I found this recipe fun and easy, with minimal clean-up. It makes a great appetizer, snack, or side dish. Serve them with a classic Remoulade Sauce. (See our recipe.) Or mix mayonnaise, hot sauce and sweet pickles to taste for a quick dipping side.
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1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 medium-size green tomatoes
salt to taste
STEP BY STEP:
- Cut tomatoes into 1/3-inch slices
- Combine egg and buttermilk; set aside. This is the “egg mixture.”
- Combine 1/4 cup flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. This is the “cornmeal mixture.”
- Pour vegetable oil into a large cast-iron skillet so it is about 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep. Optional: Add a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease for more flavor. Let oil get hot.
- Dredge tomato slices in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, dip in egg mixture, then dredge in cornmeal mixture.
- In batches, drop tomato slices into hot oil. Cook for two minutes on each side, or until they are golden.
- Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
* If you don’t love buttermilk enough to keep it on hand, you can make 1/2 cup buttermilk by starting with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar and adding enough whole milk to make 1/2 cup.