Now, being a recent transplant to the south, proper (Arizona is technically a southern state, but not really a “southern” state, if you know what I mean) I’ve been embracing my new-found cultural heritage. And from a culinary point of view, you simply cannot be properly southern without eating — and making — fried green tomatoes.
If a menu offers it, I gotta have it, everywhere I go.
Lest I go broke eating out and ordering appetizers all the time, I figured it was high time to give it a go myself, despite my culinary limitations. And let me be clear here, just because I’ve started a food blog, that doesn’t mean I fancy myself a cooking expert. Far form it after 47 years of bachelorette-hood. But with my determination to overcome my microwave dependence, I’m going to learn to cook if it kills me.
And given my culinary skills, it just might.
But I’m experimenting with different recipes for this classic southern comfort dish, and while there are a million ways to prepare it, this is the general idea. Ironically, the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” was playing this weekend on HBO. I highly recommend watching it whether you saw it many years ago or never have, and I have to read the book, which I am sure is much better than the movie, like they always are. Kathy Bates is hilarious as a frustrated housewife taking women’s self help classes to try to give her life some meaning and get her husband’s attention from the TV.
That poor woman has the worst luck with husbands in her movies.
But the movie centers around the story of two friends who open up a cafe in 1920’s Alabama to make a new home for themselves as sort of fringe characters — Ruth has left her abusive husband and although it’s never clearly stated, Idgie seems to be a lesbian in a time where that probably didn’t even have a name. The cafe also becomes home to a cast of characters, from a drunk they take under their wing, to the black folks that eat out back.
It’s a movie about a lot of things… the power of friendship, overcoming tragedy, and how groups of misfit people can come together to form their own family, amongst other things. And as they always say on those food competitions, cooking with love. And like they always say on “Chopped” when their dishes are torn apart by judges, they “cooked it with love,” like that somehow makes up for it.
So I say unto you, I hope you like this, but if you don’t… I cooked it with love, bitches.
Start with three to four firm green tomatoes. This could be a challenge to find unless you live in the south or have your own garden.
Slice them up to approximately 1/2 inch thick slices:
Set up on plate or bowl with your wet ingredients of one egg and a half cup buttermilk (You can use regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk), and another with your breading mix. This is where most of the variations come in — I’ve seen various mixes of cornmeal, flour, panko crumbs and bread crumbs. But so far, my favorite is 1/3 cup each of flour, cornmeal and plain bread crumbs, with a healthy dose of pepper and seasoned salt, to taste. If you want a little heat, add a pinch or two of cayenne or Cajun seasoning.
Yeah, I know that’s not very precise, but I won’t be confined to such mundane things as measuring spoons with my new culinary emancipation. At least not on this. I’m free at last, I tell you!
Then dip in the wet bowl (bowls being much better but plates showing it better for photo purposes), the one more time in your dry mix. Voila, that ‘mater is ready for fryin’.
For frying oil, I recommend peanut or even coconut oil to minimize the damage, but if you’re on a budget, I mean really… we’re talking about fried tomatoes, so so-called healthy oils aren’t going to make it wholesome, now are they? The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond recommends adding some butter to your oil in her pork chops recipe, which seems like a swell idea for my fried green tomatoes, as well. So I recommend 1/2 cup oil and one tablespoon butter heated on medium heat. Then carefully add your tomatoes so you don’t splash yourself with hot oil.
Fry for 3-5 minutes before turning, cooking each side to a golden brown.
Thank goodness for long lenses so I didn’t get splattered with hot grease in the name of art.
Most people serve these up with some kind of sauce or remoulade, but like the fried green tomatoes recipe itself, you’ll find about a million variations for the special sauce. I like this one from Simply Recipes or this buttermilk dipping sauce from the Neelys.
Want a handy, dandy visual reference? Or just like pretty food pictures? Pin this to your Pinterest account for reference:
Mmmmm, these are tasty. What’s your favorite variation of fried green tomatoes?