Make me a Sandwich!...Fried Green Tomatoes
Our little family (Rizzo, Cece, and me) planted a small garden in the back yard with hopes of growing a few fresh vegetables to adorn our summer dinner plates. As summer wore on the plants grew and grew. We got very excited to see our squash plants become huge, the vines of our cucumbers spread, and the tomato plants grow over six feet tall. I think we all started to think that we would accumulate enough vegetables from the garden that we would never have to purchase a vegetable again. Ever.
Unfortunately, we made one strategic error. You see, our house backs up to a county park that has an abundance of deer. These deer have no fear of people. These deer will walk right out in front of cars. These deer will slam into you while you are trying to go for a jog (see The Deer Runner). These deer will jump a fence, smash into the cages holding up your tomatoes, and proceed to chow down on the just forming tomatoes on every vine.
As a result, we were blessed with a much smaller crop than I would have hoped to receive. Every day I would go out to and see the small green tomatoes just starting to take shape and get very excited only to see the plant chewed down to the metal of the cage the next morning. So, when three “ripe” tomatoes finally made it I picked them as early as possible determined to eat a tomato from our plant.
Of course, barely ripe tomatoes don’t taste very good. They are green. So, what was I to do? The only thing I could do and what people, especially in the southern United States, having been doing since the invention of cooking. Cover it in seasoning and fry it up because everything tastes good fried (just look at calamari. You are literally eating fried rubber bands).
Enough with this jibber jabber, let’s get to the cooking. Here is what you need:
- 3 tomatoes that are full size but someone still green even though they should be red and slightly hard
- 1 egg
- A splash of milk (or cream or half & half)
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- A bit of paprika
- 2 cups of canola oil or vegetable oil
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “what the hell is the deal with these ingredients?” Or, “how about some exact measurements, dick?” Well, I can’t give you exact measurements because I didn’t use exact measurements. I made up this whole thing off the top of the ole’ dome piece. It doesn’t really matter because you’ll be making it up as you go along, too. Now that you have gathered your non-exact ingredients, here is what you do.
First, get all of your stations set up. Slice your tomatoes into fairly thick slices. Somewhere between a quarter inch and a half inch. Something that can be a bit hefty and can hold some ingredients. Next, get your egg wash ready. In a bowl, mix the egg with a splash of your milk, cream, half & half, or other liquid dairy product. At the end, you should have a very yellow but very smooth egg bath. In a second bowl, pour in the flour. Just the flower. Nothing else. Just a bowl full of flower. In a third bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, and pepper. Now you have all your ingredients set.
Next, let’s get the frying station set up. Use a high sided frying pan or a small sauté pan and fill it with the oil. I said two cups but it could be more or it could be less. Basically, you’ll want to have enough oil so when you put the tomatoes in the oil it will go about halfway up the tomato. Put the oil over medium heat and give it time to get hot.
Two semi-pro tips that I find helpful: (1) My Dad taught me how to tell when the oil is ready be it for making pancakes or frying tomatoes. Get a little bit of water in your hand and toss it in the oil. If it sizzles and crackles then the oil is ready. If it just sort of sputters out, then you need more heat. (2) DON’T use olive oil. Yes, I know it is healthier but it also doesn’t work well for frying. I think that olive oil is more viscous than other oils so I don’t think it fries as well.
Now that your oil is ready you are all set to fry up some tomatoes. First, dip the tomato slice in the flour and get it all coated. Then move the tomato to the egg wash to get another coating. Next, dip the tomato in the breadcrumb mixture to get it completely coated. Once your tomato is ready, carefully place the tomato in the hot oil and let that bad boy fry! You can put in a few tomatoes at a time but don’t stack them at all. They need plenty of space to cook.
Once you have a nice, crispy, browned tomato, flip it over to fry the other side. I’d say it takes about 3-5 minutes per side but that’ll depend on how hot you got the oil and the thickness of the tomato. Just keep a close eye on them and check often. The last thing you want is a burned tomato.
Once you have fried both sides, move the tomato to a paper towel covered plate to let it cool and to soak up some of the oil. In about 5 minutes your tomatoes will be ready to eat. I suggest you serve them salted. They also taste good when dipped in some ranch dressing, just like deep fried potatoes, mushrooms, or just about anything else.
These fried green tomatoes are quick, easy, and taste delicious. It is also a great way to keep those damn deer from getting to your garden and stealing all of your delicious produce. Take that deer!