Have you ever gotten up in the morning and said to yourself, today I have got to make me some fried green tomatoes? Yeah, me neither. In fact I never even ate my first fried green tomato until I was about 45 years old, and it was this very recipe with the tomato chutney. I guess if you grew up in the South, where they are part of the fabric of life, you would be eating this traditional side dish frequently. But I made it once, liked it very much, especially with this killer chutney, and then moved on to the next culinary experiment. But I filed it in my mental file of great recipes that I would like to do again some time in the future.
One of the impediments to making fried green tomatoes is that the local grocery markets don’t carry them here in California. I could have made a midnight foray to my neighbor’s tomato plants, I suppose, but opted to try to get my gourmet market, Bristol Farms, to get some for me. That didn’t pan out either.
So last Saturday, my friend and fellow blogger Adair, of Lentil Breakdown fame, and I walked over to the Torrance Farmers Market, which is two blocks from my new house. We made an initial scouting tour first to see what was available, and lo and behold, hidden behind the containers of big red ripe tomatoes was one little container of, you guessed it, GREEN TOMATOES. Yes!! I think I started jumping up and down and doing fist pumps. Ok, I’m a weirdo. I bought them immediately to make sure I had them firmly in hand. I could hardly wait to get them home and get started on my Fried Green Tomato Project.
In New Orleans, fried green tomatoes are sometimes served with Shrimp Remoulade, a Creole mayonnaise based sauce, so I decided to include some shrimp in my dish. I sprinkled them with Old Bay Seasoning and sautéed them in butter.
Fried green tomatoes, by themselves, are not pretty or photogenic. They are brown and sort of lumpy and wrinkled, and the beautiful green tomato inside is hidden by the buttermilk and flour coating. However, the Tomato Brown Sugar Chutney is lustrous with the deep colors of caramelized sugar and tomatoes. It looks like jewels spread atop the brown crusty cloak of the fried green tomato. And the flavor of the sweet chutney with the tart tomato is sublime.
I think very soon you are going to wake up one morning and say to yourself, today I have got to make me some fried green tomatoes!
Tomato and Brown Sugar Chutney
Makes about 2 cups
(1) 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, including juice
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 green bell peppers, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 drops Tabasco
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a heavy saucepan stir together all ingredients. I used my mini Cuisinart to finely mince the bell peppers and onion.
2. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 2 hours.
3. Cool chutney and serve as an accompaniment to fried green tomatoes, or almost any vegetable.
Note: Chutney keeps 2 weeks, covered, chilled.
Fried Green Tomatoes
4 to 6 Servings
1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 large green tomatoes, cut into 3/8-inch-thick slices
2 cups vegetable oil
1. In a large bowl whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, 1 tablespoon flour, salt and pepper. Immerse tomato slices in mixture.
2. In a large flat bowl whisk together 1 ½ cups flour, corn meal, salt and pepper.
3. In a large 12-inch skillet heat oil over medium high heat until a candy thermometer registers 350 degrees F.
4. Making sure each tomato slice is thoroughly coated with buttermilk, dredge tomato slices, one at a time, in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Fry tomatoes in batches of 6 (do not crowd skillet) until golden brown and crisp on both sides.
5. Transfer tomato slices to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with kosher salt.
6. Serve immediately with tomato chutney.