Smoky Fried Green Tomatoes

Smoky Fried Green Tomatoes

Now, my family doesn't usually eat fried green tomatoes. It's one typical Southern recipe that hasn't made it among the ranks of the popcorn-level fried okra or piles of freshly shelled black-eyed peas that usually crowd the table. But I wanted to make a big Southern meal, preparing every possible type of summer vegetable I could get my hands on. So fried green tomatoes were on the menu this week.

The sight of okra flowers makes up for the prickly stems.

The sight of okra flowers makes up for the prickly stems.

After an afternoon of the sounds of shelling peas (punctuated by the cat frantically chasing after fallen peas), and a quick refresher on wheeling okra (pro tip: you shouldn't need a cutting board), we set to work on a veggie-forward meal that ranged from roast squash to all manner of cornmeal-fried goodies. We ended with a scoop of my dad's homemade peach ice cream.

Now, I just moved back to a big city. I was telling my great aunt this news, and she responded; "I think that's the last place I'd want to live. Maybe even Hell is above that." Humor aside, I have to admit it was hard leaving behind the deep, familiar heat of the South and the white-noise roar of cicadas for a completely different kind of heat and noise. But I find comfort in the fact that I have tracked down where I can get my peas and my okra.

Now, I'll just have to track down the last of this summer's tomatoes for this recipe.

Smoky Fried Green Tomatoes

Pretty heavily adapted from this MyRecipes version.

Ingredients

4 large green tomatoes

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg

(Generous) dash Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, or sauce of your choosing

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white cornmeal

1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika, or Pimentón

Dash salt

Canola oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces.
  2. Whisk together egg and buttermilk in a small bowl. Add dash of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
  3. Combine flour, cornmeal, smoked paprika, and salt in another small bowl.
  4. Dredge tomatoes through egg mixture, coating both sides, repeating with flour mixture.
  5. Fry in batches, laying the tomato slices away from you as you put them in the oil. Flip tomatoes with care when one side is golden brown.
  6. Place in bowl with paper towels for excess oil.
  7. Serve alone, or with an aioli of hot sauce and mayonnaise, adjusted to your taste and spice tolerance.

Side note: Heck, try some Old Bay in your cornmeal mixture! 

Extra side note: For something a little sweeter, choose green tomatoes with a slight blush of red to them.

Make sure the slices are well-coated to ensure that the batter covers the whole tomato.

Make sure the slices are well-coated to ensure that the batter covers the whole tomato.

Be warned: These aren't your sweet, juicy Brandywines or Beefsteaks. Green tomatoes are decidedly tangy, a nice contrast from the smoky, crisped cornmeal crust. As noted above, choose tomatoes with a hint of red to them, if you're looking for something a little sweeter.

May your table always be a little too full for elbow room.