Thomas stayed out at the plantation with us this weekend and today we decided to get up and fry us some fried green tomatoes for lunch. Lord they are good. I think that's one of the best parts of summer and having a garden. A bunch of people have asked me over the last couple of weeks how I make them. So I figured writing a blog about it would probably be the best way to tell y'all. First off, you should know this. These are a southern specialty. God himself only knows calorie counts and things like that. So don't even ask. Just make em and enjoy em!
I think a lot can be said about southern cooking- nowadays, people are scared of this, count the calories in that, stay away from the carbs here and substitute for this in that. Seems like a long way around to me. I think our grandparents had the right ideas- remember them? Those people who used REAL milk and real butter, who grew gardens and ate out of them every day? They seemed to live long happy lives (not always, but...). Today, it seems like everyone is sickly and full of cancer and other things before they are 50 years old. Makes you wonder- maybe we should go back to doing things the "not so easy" way like our grandparents did. Now that being said, sit back, get out the Crisco and enjoy these tomatoes!
Now you're free to change and substitute as you wish on this recipe, but don't be all mad and crying to me when it doesn't come out right or tastes like cardboard. Trust me on this. For once, go with the "unhealthy" ingredients. You'll thank me later
First thing you're going to need is a big can of butter flavored Crisco. For those of you over 35, you might remember Loretta Lynn cooking up her fried chicken in so many Crisco commercials in the early 80's. She had a point... Go get you some Crisco. We use the solid form. Kind of like a big can of butter flavored lard.
Second thing you'll need is a big green tomato. This is just what it sounds like- a tomato that's not ripe yet. We get ours fresh out of the garden, but if you don't have one of those, I'm sure most grocery stores, farmers markets or even walmart will carry green tomatoes.
Next, make sure you have a big bag of Martha White self rising flour. Not sure of the difference between that and the others, that's just what we keep on hand for our baking. ....and boy does that make a mean biscuit!
Seasonings. Again I go back to my grandparents. A lot can be said for keeping it simple. We just use black pepper and sea salt. Regular salt and pepper work too, but to me, doesn't give that subtle kick like cracked pepper and sea salt.
Then there's my secret ingredient. You're gonna laugh... And that's ok. Laugh away. Then try it. You'll be shocked. Ready!? Get a big bottle of international delight southern butter pecan flavored coffee creamer (the liquid one). Yep- the same stuff you get for your coffee. This is what I use to soak the tomatoes in. It replaces the milk and gives the tomatoes a subtle southern flavor that leaves you wanting more. Before you write this part off as just too odd, think about it. Coffee creamer is just a step away from milk anyway. Trust me on this.
You're just about ready to start cooking. Now it's time to prep.
First thing you need to do is get out a skillet and put a BIG OLE scoop or two of the Crisco in it. Turn it on medium to medium high heat and let the solid liquify. This should be heating up while you're prepping the tomatoes. You'll want the liquid to be about an inch to an inch and a half deep in the skillet so the tomatoes can float in the grease.
Now you want to cut up the tomato. I slice mine pretty thin, but you can do them as thick or as thin as you'd like. The thinner they are, the more tender (and they will cook faster). Once you have the tomatoes all sliced up, put them into a bowl and drown them in the southern butter pecan creamer. You want to make sure they are all covered. If you want to do this in stages so you don't use as much creamer, ok. I do that too. If you want to be quicker, do them all at once. Set the bowl of tomatoes to the side and let them soak for a few minutes. While they are soaking, we can get the flour mix ready. The easiest way to do this is to pour the flour out into a big plate or a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Remember that salt goes a long way and pepper can usually go further than what you've put in there. Add more pepper ;). These are the dry ingredients. Mix up the flour, salt and pepper with your hands and get it ready to dredge the tomatoes in.
Let's check your grease. It should be hot enough at this point. You don't want it very hot because the flour will burn before the tomatoes get done and nobody wants that. Slow and steady wins the race.
Ok. Let's dredge the tomatoes. You want to take one tomato slice at a time from the creamer and completely cover it with the flour. Pat it firmly so that the flour completely covers the tomato everywhere. Flip it over and pat the other side just as firmly. Once it's completely covered in flour, set it on a clean plate off to the side so that it can dry. Continue on to the next tomato. (Extra step) once you get all of the tomatoes completely covered in flour, and sitting on a plate to dry, you CAN start this process over (creamer/flour/pat) for a thicker, second coat of breading.
This is an important part. You want the tomatoes to sit to the side to dry good for 10 minutes or so. This helps the breading to stick to them better once they go into the grease. Lay them out separately on a plate and give them time to set up. Once you've done this, you're ready to cook them. Gently float them in the skillet with the grease. Remember to keep the heat on medium. I only flip mine once. If the temp is just right, you can let it float for a couple of minutes, notice the edges turning a light golden brown and flip them over to cook the other side. Once you flip them, let them cook for a couple of minutes on that side as well. Cook them till they look almost done. Once you pull them out of the grease, they will darken just a little bit more. I lay mine on a plate with a clean paper towel to absorb some of the grease and then lightly go over the top of them with a dash of salt and pepper again.
Now in the south, most people dip them
In 1,000 island dressing- if you don't have that, it's pretty easy to make. It's mayo, ketchup and sweet pickle relish (or a minced up pickle of your choice with just a touch of the juice mixed in). You want to balance the mayo and ketchup to make it a light peach color.
We use cucumber ranch salad dressing to dip ours in. The cucumber ranch plays nicely with the breading on the tomatoes and makes you want to lick the plate once you're done.
And there you have it. My fried green tomatoes recipe. Dixie approved! She loves to not only sit beside me while cooking them, but get her own to eat once they are ready! Try these. You won't be disappointed. I don't even like tomatoes, and could eat my weight in these.
If you make them, send me pictures of them! I promise it won't be the last time you make them.