Just like you, I learn new things about foods all the time too. I always considered fried green tomatoes to be a Southern dish, but they did not really become a popular dish in the South until around the mid 1940’s. And they really took off in the South after the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” by Fannie Flagg, in the 1990’s. Today, they are second in popularity, with grits being the most popular Southern recipe and dish. Fried green tomatoes actually originated in both the Midwest and the Northeastern parts of the United States, most likely by Jewish immigrants and the Pennsylvania Dutch. Recipes for fried green tomatoes are found in Jewish cookbooks dating back to 1889.
Green tomatoes are tomatoes that have not fully ripened before being picked from the vines. They are green and are firmer than red tomatoes. Because of their consistency, they are breaded and fried, whereas the red tomatoes get too mushy when fried. In the Southern regions, they are most often breaded with cornmeal and in the Midwest and Northern regions, they are most often breaded with white flour. Green tomatoes have a slightly sour or tangy taste to them, which goes very well with being breaded and pan fried. The keys to making them perfectly crisp and not soggy or mushy are: 1) to cut them in slices about 1/4 inch in thickness; 2) use green tomatoes with no hints or red or orange; and 3) use very HOT oil with a bit of bacon grease. They are a popular dish at any time of day. They are best when fresh and from local areas, where they do not have to travel very far too.
When I made my fried green tomatoes, I served them with my Southwestern steak The Secret is in the Sauce and some smashed red potatoes. Smashed Red Potatoes. Everything went together just perfectly. It was a simple, downhome, just plain good meal.
Fried Green Tomatoes
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use the dried buttermilk that I mix with milk)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
salt & pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
5 medium green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4″ thick
vegetable or canola oil for frying
2 TBSP bacon grease, optional
Mix the cornmeal with the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish. And set aside
Mix the eggs and buttermilk together in a separate dish.
Pat the tomato slices dry with a paper towel, then dip into the egg mixture and completely coat the tomato slices, shaking off the excess liquid. Then dip into the cornmeal mixture and completely coat, once again shaking off the excess coating.
Once the tomato slices are all coated, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before cooking them. When the are ready, get about 1/2 inch of very hot oil and bacon grease (if using) very hot. You want the oil to be about 365*F. Carefully place the tomato slices into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Repeat until all the tomato slices are cooked.
Cook them for about 2 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown and crispy. Drain them on a paper towel for just a bit, to remove the excess grease. I should have cooked these just a smidge more, to make them a bit more golden and crunchy, but we were hungry. Next time. 🙂
Serve them hot! “They ain’t good any other way but hot”.
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.