The memory of my first fried green tomato is a vivid one. My family was having dinner at the Cypress Inn in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and my father insisted we order the fried green’s as an appetizer. As a child, I hated tomatoes. Hated them. But I nibbled anyway, and I’m glad I did.
Flash-forward to this summer, I spent a considerable amount of time in Little Rock, Arkansas and on Saturday nights, at various restaurants, I found myself ordering these little green treats at every meal with a side of fries or grilled shrimp. It became somewhat of a fattening tradition, but I don’t regret a single bite.
I flooded the local farmer’s market a couple weeks ago, and bought every last green tomato. The rest is history…
The Fried Green Tomato:
Carton of green tomatoes
Two cups buttermilk
Two cups self-rising flour
One cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Two cups canola oil
One cup butter
Slice the tomatoes and place them in a colander. Salt them (lightly) and let the moisture drain out as much as possible. Rinse under water and pat them dry with paper towels. Make sure you pat them well - you don’t want any access water on them when you place them in the pan to be fried.
For the wash, whisk the buttermilk and eggs together in a medium sized bowl. For the dredge, mix the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, spices and salt/pepper) on a large platter.
In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil and butter to 350 (and if you don’t have a thermometer, just wait until it starts to lightly bubble).
Take each slice and work it individually, first by completely coating it in the wash, and then covering it with the dredge. Make sure you cover ever wet spot with the dredge (I like to over-dredge as much as possible). Fry about 3-4 tomatoes at a time, turning them only once with a spatula. It should be about 4 minutes total cooking time.
Wait until cool to eat, otherwise the crisp coating breaks off and you don’t get the full benefit of the AMAZING flavor. You can also make a simple remoulade as an added bonus, but they really don’t need it.
The Film Pairing:
I think the obvious choice is, Fried Green Tomatoes, but frankly that’s not the film I think about when I picture classic southern tradition in my mind. Therefore…
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Miss Scarlet and Rhett Butler (swoooooon). Must I go on? I will. When I was a child, all I could say about this movie was, “WHY DOES SHE DRINK PERFUME??” but now I shout, “WHY DOES HE LEAVE? DON’T LEAVE!!!” at the television. As you can see, I’ve greatly matured.
These things aside, a this is the quintessential southern film, and one that - while it has absolutely nothing in common with food - could be even more enjoyable with a side of fried green tomatoes.
*recipe adapted from Garden and Gun magazine