In the last 4 weeks I’ve made fried green tomatoes 2-3 times. This week, however I hit the jackpot! My husband, Ervin & I were in downtown Branson doing a little birthday shopping for Phillip’s gal, Paige. We decided to pop in the Branson Café for a spot of lunch.
I made a quick detour while Ervin was ordering us an appetizer of ‘fried green tomatoes’. I ordered a delicious club sandwich and Ervin had the infamous meat loaf, with real potatoes I might add. After Ervin told me what he had ordered I set back and braced myself. Why? Every time I have eaten this delicacy the price is outlandish and the tomato slices are about the size of the top of a can of vegetable spray. Boy was I in for a surprise! Very nice battering, great size on the green tomatoes and we were served 6-8 nice slices. Remember where I was friends!
My next question was: ‘Are these only on the menu seasonally?’ Locals get ready they are on the menu year round! Hot diggity, someplace besides my kitchen for fried green tomatoes.
I’ve been eating fried green tomatoes since I was just a wee kid in Northeast Missouri. Dad wouldn’t let us have them until it was about the end of August and the bulk of the red tomato season had passed. So I’m talking around 60 ish years on this dish.
The biggest surprise about this delicacy is the fact that it did not originate in the ‘low’ country/southern part of the United States. It was brought to this nation by Jewish immigrants around 1908. Shocking information isn’t it? It later showed up mostly in the Midwestern states and in the Northeast sector. They truly only became popular after: ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café’ and the famous book and movie: ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’.
We never ‘doctored’ our fried green tomatoes with any sauces or dips, it just was not done. Today, however, in the South the dish might be served with fresh shrimp and a Cajun red tomato cream sauce.
Remember, if you have gathered your green tomatoes put them in the refrigerator so they don’t start to turn before you fry. We look for every excuse to enjoy a platter of these yummy treats. As I explored the history of this dish I reminded myself how important it is to study the ancestry of your family. You also want to look into the foods of the region. What nationality were the people who settled your homeland? My mother, Betty, had a rich history that started with her great grandparents and the state of Kentucky. This is where my family food history all began.
Now the fun part begins, I don’t have a recipe! Seriously, I’m going to guide you through what I do and you can figure out your likes and dislikes from there. Enough said, let’s dive into an outline:
Fried Green Tomatoes
Cast Iron Skillet
Bread Crumbs (the kind in a can)
Salt & Pepper*
Buttermilk or cream
3-4 baseball size green tomatoes
Additional spices can be added, but to keep it traditional, don’t venture too far outside the box.
Wash and slice green tomatoes, set to the side. Pour about 1/2 an inch of oil into a cast iron skillet. Heat until oil reaches about 375 degrees.
Gather 2 dredging bowls. In the first bowl place flour & cornmeal, and ‘only’ if you like, a bit of bread crumbs, (I use Italian) and salt & pepper. Whisk well til’ blended. In the 2nd bowl whisk 2-3 eggs and perhaps 1/2 – 3/4 cup of buttermilk, blend well.
Dredge the slices of tomato in the dry mix, then the wet and back to the dry one more time. Place in preheated skillet. They should brown lightly before they are flipped over. (2-4 minutes) I use a fork for this, but many will use a set of tongs. Whatever works best for you. As I fry I place the cooked slices on a paper towel in a metal pan. Set them in an oven that would be preheated to 200 degrees.
*Seasoning salt works nicely too.
Yield: 20-25 slices, 10 for me and 15 for everyone else!!!
OK, if you forced me I’d guess: 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/2 cup bread crumbs and 3/4 cup flour.