The South is known for its cooking. Fried chicken, grits, collard greens and black eyed peas, sweet tea…and of course, fried green tomatoes and fried okra. I’ve been living in Georgia since 2002 and only had fried green tomatoes once. I decided it was high time I tried creating this Southern classic on my own, and my friend Lori kindly provided a recipe:
Cori’s FGT (Fried Green Tomatoes)
(These are approximate amounts; I didn’t actually measure when I made it recently.)
You will need:
5 Medium Green Tomatoes (Firm; baseball size)
A frying pan
Olive Oil, as needed (If possible use the bottle labeled for frying.)
4 Eggs (Beaten, in bowl)
1 Cup Flour (In separate bowl)
Salt, To Taste
Pepper, To Taste
1. Pour olive oil in frying pan (About ¼ deep); warm to medium heat. (Don’t allow it to get too hot, olive oil ‘breaks down’ & loses its flavor if too hot.)
2. Wash & cut top & bottom off tomatoes. Slice to about ¼ inch thick. (Some people prefer thinner slices, to me they are crispier but you can’t tell you are eating tomatoes. Thicker slices give you the tartness of the tomatoes that contrast with the fried batter; a perfect union. It’s all a matter of preference.)
3. Dip slices first in egg, then flour. (I did them all at one time & stacked on a plate.)
4. Fry as many as will fit in the oil, about 3-4 minutes on each side. The batter should be golden brown all over.
5. Drain & cool on a paper towel; eat warm. Sprinkle salt / pepper to taste. Makes about 25 slices, more or less. Store uneaten slices (Yeah, right LOL) in an airtight container. Reheat under broiler to maintain crispness.
6. I didn’t use dipping sauces but ranch dressing or a honey mustard horseradish sounds like a good match.
I picked up a couple of green tomatoes at the farmer’s market. Unfortunately they sat for a little longer than I’d anticipated and one of them was more pink than green, but I figured it was the firmness that really mattered and it was still pretty firm. And I’m a yankee so I can probably get away with a kung faux pas like that.
Since I only had two tomatoes I halved the recipe. Also, I used the lard I rendered last week to do the frying. Test subject Bill was suspicious when I told him what I was making (he’s from Nebraska…) but I was confident he would become an enthusiastic supporter once he tried them.
I egged and dredged and fried the tomato slices in my cast iron skillet in about half a pint of lard, give or take. I probably could have gotten away with less. I fried them for about three minutes per side and they came out looking fabulous. On Lori’s suggestion, I whipped up a dipping sauce – just dijon mustard and local honey for a sweet and tangy zip.
As the slices came out, I salted, peppered and then added a dash of smoked paprika over everything. I don’t think the flavor of the paprika came through, though, for the ones we used the dipping sauce on. However, it did make them look nice!
Test subject Bill came down for a sample and walked away with half the slices. I think he liked them even better when I told him they were fried in lard. Pork fat. It just makes you smile.
I do think that I overdid it last week on the lard rendering though. The porky flavor really came through more than I think it should have. Plus when I was frying I could really smell it. Next time I’ll know what to look for as far as “doneness” and take it off the heat earlier. No more lard kung faux pas for me. I can learn!
Since I was frying and had all this nice lard and happened to pick up a basket of okra at the farmer’s market, fried okra was the natural progression. I did a lot of research on different recipes but settled on this one. I did end up modifying it a bit based on some other recommendations on other recipes (I used half cornmeal and half flour for the coating), but it came out fantastic! The coating totally stuck to the okra and came out crunchy and flavorful. I think even my okra-hating Dad would have loved this. After all…what food does frying in lard NOT improve?