Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Classic Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

Sliced green tomatoes, dipped in hot sauce and buttermilk, lightly battered with cornmeal and flour and fried.
Sliced green tomatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper, marinated in buttermilk, and dredged in a cornmeal and flour mixture tossed with Cajun seasoning, then fried - they are a true Southern Classic.

Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

Everybody likely remembers the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, based on the book by Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. It certainly popularized the common green tomato for sure and lots of restaurants jumped on that green tomato wagon shortly after the movie was released.

"There's not a tomato safe
south of the Mason-Dixon line." Fannie Flagg.

But truthfully, fried green tomatoes have been around a long, long time and likely date back to the Depression, when folks would just about fry up anything and call it dinner. A batch of fried green tomatoes with a big glass of sweet iced tea and you had yourself a tasty and light dish for a hot summer night. That would be light as in not heavy, not light as in diet-light!

A southern delight!

Some folks claim that the idea of fried green tomatoes came somewhere out of the northern regions of our country and aren't even a "southern thing" at all! Well... I don't know about all that. We certainly have a much longer growing season down south, but really, no matter where or how they originated, I reckon you can't hardly hear those three words without at least thinkin' of The South, so it was a perfect name for a book and movie that depicted the ups and downs, ins and outs, and complexities of life in the south. I so love that movie and can't even guess at the number of times I have watched it.

Always best with fresh, green tomatoes picked straight out of the backyard garden.

Fried green tomatoes need to be served hot, preferably right out of the pan. They should be juicy on the inside, but crispy, crunchy and salty on the outside - never soggy! Serve with your favorite dipping sauce - a true Mississippi Comeback Sauce or remoulade sauce is wonderful, but if you're not feeling up to making a batch, try my husband's favorite and easy Lazy Man's KetMayo Sauce. Known as fry sauce around the country, it's super easy to whip up.

Check out more of my southern favorites on Pinterest!

Recipe: Classic Fried Green Tomatoes

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 small to medium green tomatoes, or more as needed, preferably right off the vine
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup or more cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or butter, or a combination
  • 1 cup buttermilk, or enough to cover
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 cup plain all-purpose cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional

Place a rack over a pan covered in paper towels; set aside. Slice the tomatoes into thick slices - about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Season generously with salt and pepper and let sit for 5 minutes.

Heat cooking oil over medium high heat; you'll want about 1/2 inch of oil. Add a tablespoon of bacon drippings or butter. Set up a dredging station with one small bowl of buttermilk, beaten with the hot sauce, one shallow pan or pie plate with the flour and another with the cornmeal and Cajun seasoning.

Dip tomato slices in the flour, shake off, then pass through buttermilk, letting excess drip away before finally dredging in the cornmeal, coating both sides and edges. Place immediately into the hot fat, frying for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown, turning only once. Cook in batches so as not to crowd the pan. That will cool down the oil and make for greasy fried green tomatoes. Give them plenty of room to groove!

Drain on the rack, sprinkle immediately with a tiny pinch of kosher salt as they come out of the pan and serve right away. May also place into a low oven to keep warm if necessary. Continue with remaining slices, adding additional oil to the skillet as needed. Tomatoes should be crisp, not soggy.

Serve plain, with a dab of mayo, Mississippi Comeback Sauce, Lazy Man's KetMayo Sauce, Spicy Mustard Sauce, Rémoulade Sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.

Variation: It's not traditional, but try using 1/2 cup of cornmeal with 1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs for a little extra crunch - so good!

Cook's Notes: May double dip in the buttermilk/flour mixture if desired, however this does make for a thick crust. If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute regular milk, however, beat in an egg and add a little flour to the cornmeal to help the cornmeal adhere. May also omit the buttermilk or milk and use an egg wash by beating 2 large eggs with 2 tablespoons of water or milk.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup. Top with an oven safe rack and spray with oil. Prepare tomatoes as above, placing on baking sheet. Spray tops with oil or use an oil based cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, turn, spray and return to oven for about 5 minutes longer or until golden brown. I highly recommend these sprayers for oils. I've tried several but these are the best I have found!

To Air Fry: Brands and wattage of air fryers differ in how they cook. Be sure to keep an eye on the food the first time that you cook a recipe and adjust as needed. Preheat air fryer for 3 minutes at 400 degrees F. Coat basket or trays with olive oil. Prepare tomatoes as above. If using a basket fryer you will need to prepare in batches and then stack all cooked tomatoes in basket when done to reheat. If using an oven style fryer, rotate trays halfway. Spray dredged tomatoes generously with oil on both sides and place into basket. I recommend the EVO sprayer. Cook for 6 minutes, turn and spray again and cook for another 6 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack in between batches if needed.


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Posted by on June 10, 2009
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