Some weeks ago, Johanne O'Brien wrote in requesting a recipe for fried green tomatoes, a traditional dish from the American south. We're coming up on green tomato season: I had a few in my garden and I snagged a few more from my mother-in-law. Using unripe green tomatoes gives this dish its uniquely tart taste, but in a pinch, you can use red tomatoes as long as they are fairly hard and not too juicy. (In other words, average supermarket tomatoes.)
L. Dale Guy sent in a recipe made famous by Fannie Flagg, the woman behind the bestselling 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Not surprisingly, the cookbook spinoff had a recipe for the titular dish. Thanks also to Anne Pedneault from Kenora, who offered three recipes.
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Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes
175 ml (3/4 cup) self-rising flour (see note below)
60 ml (1/4 cup) cornmeal
1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
1 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper
175 ml (3/4 cup) whole milk
3-4 green tomatoes, cut into 6 mm (1/4 inch) slices
Vegetable oil, for frying
In medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper and whisk together. Stir in milk until smooth, adding additional milk if necessary. (Batter should be like pancake batter.) In a large, heavy skillet, heat about 2.5 cm (1 in) oil to 190 C (375 F). Working in batches, dip tomato slices into batter, coating thoroughly but allowing excess batter to drip back into bowl. Fry until golden brown, turning once carefully with tongs. Transfer to a colander to drain. It's best to eat them out of the pan, but to keep them from getting soggy before they are served, stand them up like wheels instead of stacking them.
Note: To make self-rising flour, add 6 ml (1 1/4 tsp) baking powder and 1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt to 250 ml (1 cup) of all-purpose flour.
Tester's notes: L. Dale Guy suggested fried green tomatoes are, perhaps, an acquired taste, but after sampling these, I think I could acquire it. This version puffs up a bit, like a fritter, with some added crunch from the cornmeal. I served a spicy mayonnaise alongside.
The recipe says you can use bacon fat for frying, but unless you are running a cafe in Alabama, you probably won't have enough for deep frying.
Fried Green Tomatoes With Panko
175 ml (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
500 ml (2 cups) panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
5 medium green tomatoes, cut into 6 mm (1/4 in) slices
Vegetable oil for deep fat frying
In three separate bowls, place flour, eggs and bread crumbs. Dip tomato slices first in flour, then in egg, then in panko. In an electric skillet or deep fat fryer, heat at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) oil to 190 C (375 F). Fry coated tomatoes, a few at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.
Tester's notes: These were very crispy on the outside and tender inside. For crunch value, nothing beats panko bread crumbs, which can now be found in the bakery section of most supermarkets. If you don't have an electric frying pan or deep fat fryer, you can use a heavy, solid skillet or pot. Just be careful.