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Fried green tomatoes are one of my favorite summer foods. If you haven’t tried them, you’re in for a treat.
Native to Mexico and Central America, it’s not clear how tomatoes came to the United States. Thomas Jefferson grew them in the 1780s and credited one of his neighbors with the introduction, but Harriott Pinckney Horry recorded a recipe, “To Keep Tomatoes for Winter Use” in 1770.
There is a folk legend they were introduced by African slaves who came to North America by way of the Caribbean, and some historians believe the Portuguese introduced tomatoes to the West Coast of Africa.
There are plenty of ways to coat and fry tomatoes:use bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, cornmeal or flour. Some people dip them in beaten eggs before dredging, while some just dredge then fry. I prefer coating them with flour, dredging in a beaten egg and then coating with cornmeal.
Southern Fried Green Tomatoes
Cut the tomatoes however thick you like them (the thicker they are, the longer they cook). Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Coat the tomatoes with flour, then dip in a beaten egg, and then dredge in cornmeal for a final coat. Fill a skillet with enough oil to almost cover the tomatoes (about 3/4 of the way up). Get the oil nice and hot and then fry them up! Cook on each side until golden brown. Let cool before enjoying.
Serve as a side dish; delicious with breakfast, too!
Optional: For an even better taste, try frying a few strips of bacon (the fattier, the better) in your pan until they are crispy. Remove the bacon and add enough oil to almost cover the tomatoes. Once done, serve the tomatoes with bacon bits on top.
Oven Fried Green Tomatoes
4 to 6 green tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch thick slices
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup water
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Sprinkle tomato slices with salt and pepper on both sides. In a shallow bowl, mix beaten eggs, milk and water. Put the all-purpose flour in a shallow bowl. Dip each slice into egg mixture, and then into flour. Dip each slice into egg and then into the flour again. Arrange tomatoes in large, shallow, greased baking pans, or bake in one pan, in batches. Tomatoes should not touch. Bake uncovered in 400-degree oven 20 minutes, turning halfway through.
For a crunchier coating, dip slices the second time into egg mixture and then into seasoned breadcrumbs or cornmeal, with a little Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Green Tomato Soup with Country Ham
Serve this flavorful soup with hot baked cornbread and a salad.
2 Tbsps. butter
4-6 oz. country ham or smoked ham, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
8 medium green tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium red tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced
1/4 tsp. celery salt
Hot sauce, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; add ham, onion and garlic. Saut, stirring, until onion is tender. Add chicken broth, chopped green and red tomatoes and minced jalapeno pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Working in batches, pulse in a blender or food processor until almost smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and add celery salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper and hot sauce, as desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Green Tomato Pie
6 to 8 medium green tomatoes
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsps. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. butter
Pastry for 9-inch two-crust pie
Wash the green tomatoes well; peel and slice. In a saucepan, combine tomatoes with lemon juice, peel, salt and cinnamon. Cook tomato mixture over low heat, stirring frequently. Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into tomato mixture. Cook mixture until clear, stirring constantly. Add butter, remove from heat, and let stand until slightly cooled. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; pour in tomato mixture. Cover with top pastry, seal edges, crimp, and cut several small slits in crust to allow steam to escape. Bake at 435 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned. Serve warm or cooled.
Fried Red Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 medium tomatoes, chilled and cut in 1/2-inch slices
Cornmeal, for dredging
Hot bacon drippings, for sauting
Combine the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, paprika and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Spread this mixture on both sides of the tomato slices. Dredge the tomato slices in the cornmeal.
Heat 1/4-inch bacon drippings in a skillet. When hot, saute the tomato slices until lightly browned and crisp. Drain and serve hot. Makes 4 servings.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.