I know what you’re thinking. It’s okay. I’d be thinking it, too. Don’t be shy: go on and say it. It’s a variation on, “What are those fascinating people eating lately?” Right? Right? I’m right, aren’t I?
Well, you get my fried green tomatoes recipe anyway.
My grandmother Bess made these, I’m told, although I hardly ever saw her lift a pan when I was a girl. She was too busy being awesome and weird and having very very cool adventures. Still, I’m told she made these, and I believe it. These tomatoes are quick and simple and delicious and the first food I think of when I think of summer, quickly followed by Creamsicles, obviously. (I don’t have a recipe for Creamsicles. If you do, please email me now, because with our no- corn- in- the- house policy my summer is sadly bereft of Creamsicles and it is KILLING me.)
Disclaimer #1: I am told these are not Real Fried Green Tomatoes by some people who claim to be in the know. (You know who you are!) There is a lack of cornstarch and egg that positively distresses these allegedly “in-the-know” folks. I’m over it, but you might want to find out if anyone has a pathological aversion to egg- and-cornstarch- free fried green tomatoes before serving this dish. This is a Big Deal Dividing Issue, in case you didn’t know, and can get one accused of co- opting southern culture. For the record: my grandmother Bess was a North Carolina girl. (So there.)
Disclaimer #2: I’m not big on measuring things. This means I’m lousy at baking, and my “recipes” are really just cooking notes and tend to be frustrating as hell to people who are good at baking. Sorry about that, all. Bake me something and next time I’ll measure stuff. I favor carrot cupcakes and angel food cake.
Fried Green Tomatoes, as per Bess:
I like to drizzle the finished tomatoes with a homemade ranch dressing. For that, you need:
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 fistful chopped fresh herbs (I use chives, parsley and dill)
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp lemon juice
To make the ranch dressing, if you want it, just mix all that stuff together in a bowl and pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You’ll want to do that first, so it can settle, because the tomatoes are dead fast. Stick your finger in it and adjust herbs, salt, etc to taste. (I never claimed to be classy.)
Here’s what you need for the tomatoes themselves:
- 3-4 large green tomatoes
- 1 and 1/2 cup of flour
- sea salt (I use lots, maybe 2 tbsp)
- fresh ground pepper (about 1/2 the amount of sea salt)
- vegetable oil that can stand high heat (I use peanut, or sunflower oil)
- 1 cast iron skillet (for even heat and awesomely easy cleanup)
You can get by with a regular large pan, but really, why?
Mix the flour, pepper and sea salt in a container with a relatively flat bottom. You’re going to dredge the tomatoes in this, so make sure you have enough room. Slice your tomatoes, not too thin, but not into inch- thick slabs, either. Mine look about as thick as most people put on a sandwich- about 1/3 of an inch.
Cover the bottom of the pan with a light layer of the oil and turn your burner to high heat. Grab a plate, cover it with a paper towel, and start dredging the tomatoes through the flour/ salt/ pepper mixture. get both sides good and covered.
You see that sneaky tomato slice that is under the in- focus slice? That, class, is a poorly dredged slice. That requires more dredging, stat.
Once they’re dredged, check your oil. I am an idiot, and insist on getting my hand wet, then flicking a little water at the pan. According to this method, if it sizzles the oil is ready. Again, that’s the idiot way to do it. I can’t recommend the idiot way, exactly, but conveniently, I also lack any other way to tell you if the oil is hot enough. So, somehow- however you may choose to do it and preferably in some intelligent fashion- check your oil, then quickly transfer tomato slices to the pan. YOU WANT TO USE A UTENSIL. (Ask me how I know!) Spatulas work well here.
The idea here is something like searing- using high heat to create a quick crust and seal in moisture and flavor. I let slices rest about 4 minutes a side, but I’m also cooking on a superwonky gas stove from the 1950s. Keep an eye on them, and look for a golden brown crust to form, then flip them. (SPATULA.)
You’ll have to do this in batches. Lay paper towels between layers of tomatoes, and add a little extra oil in the pan if/ when necessary. Let them cool for about two minutes, then plate, drizzle some ranch over them, and devour.