This recipe will probably get me in trouble with the traditionalists of American cuisine but for those that like to experiment with recipes this may be a great change. I have been told by friends that Southern families are very secretive about their recipes for Fried Green Tomatoes but the one thing that sets the ones from the South apart from the ones from the North is that in the South they use cornmeal for the crust and in the North all-purpose flour is the main ingredient to form the crust. Of course, being a person who loves to break rules, I mixed cornmeal and all-purpose flour to make a slightly gritty and crunchy crust. Also, even though it is a dish that requires deep frying, I made it a bit healthier by substituting bacon fat or lard with olive oil. And as long as I was using olive oil, I went a bit more Mediterranean and added some dried oregano for flavor, some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat and used a Labneh, Feta and Dill weed sauce to be served with the crunchy tomatoes. So clearly it was not a traditional recipe but it did taste extremely good and the combination of flavors only enhanced the taste of the Fried Green Tomatoes!
1. Three large firm Green Tomatoes
2. ½ cup of all-purpose flour
3. ½ cup of yellow cornmeal
4. One large egg
5. 1 cup of buttermilk
6. 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
7. 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
8. 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
9. 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
10. 1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
11. 1 teaspoon of sugar
12. 2 cups of olive oil for frying
1. Wash the tomatoes and then slice them in discs about ¼ to 1/3 of an inch thick
2. Lay out all the tomato slices on a flat surface and sprinkle a bit of salt and sugar on both the sides of the slices and let these slices rest for 15 minutes.
3. Lay the tomato slices on dry paper towels and absorb as much of their “sweat” on the paper towels as possible.
4. While the tomato slices are sweating, mix a pinch of salt, the dry cornmeal and all-purpose flour in a bowl and set up a breading station close to the stove.
5. In another bowl, crack open the egg and whisk it for half a minute and then add the buttermilk to it and whisk again to make a consistent thick liquid. Set this bowl next to the other one with the cornmeal and flour mixture.
6. Sprinkle a little bit of garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes and sweet paprika on each of the tomato slices.
7. Heat up the olive oil in a medium sized skillet and bring the oil temperature to about 350-360 degree Celsius. This is the ideal temp for deep frying anything because it prevents the oil from being absorbed into the food item and thereby keeps the dish light and not overly greasy.
8. Place each of the slices first in the dry flour bowl (both sides) and then in the egg and buttermilk batter. Then again dip each of the slices into the dry flour bowl. This double-dipping ensures a that thick crust forms outside the tomato slices. Shake off any excess flour.
9. Place 3-4 slices of the battered slices into the skillet containing the hot oil and fry them for 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown on each side. Repeat this step for each of the slices. Fry the tomato slices in batches of 3-4 slices at a time so that the skillet is not crowded and the oil maintains its temperature close to 350 degree.
10. Place the fried tomato slices on dry paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Do not stack the fried slices (or they will lose their crunch).
11. Serve the fried tomato slices while they are still hot with a side of any kind of sauce you may prefer. I used a sauce of whipped up Labneh, crumbled feta, chopped fresh dill weed, some lemon juice, sugar, salt and one crushed clove of fresh garlic. I know this is not the traditional sauce to be served with Fried Green Tomatoes but I am obsessed with Labneh and lately this has become my standard go-to sauce with any vegetable dishes (especially roast Brussels sprouts).