I’ve played and played around with different recipes for this southern staple. From the likes of Paula Deen to Emeril to The Neelys and beyond. I think it’s just a matter of practicing until you find your comfort zone. Below is my final result and has proven to only get better each time I make it. I attribute that to the method of cooking them as much as I do to the ingredients.
There are a few things that will make a difference in the end result. First, I always cook mine in a cast iron skillet. The cast iron distributes the heat evenly. I fry them in shallow oil, approximately 1/4 inch. You don’t want the oil to cover the tomato when you place it in the skillet. That will make the tomato greasy and it will be undercooked. I use canola oil (and about 2 tbsp of bacon drippings if I have on hand, for added flavor). You can use a combination of canola and vegetable. Canola withstands a high heat point and is a more healthy choice.
The tomatoes also make a big difference. You want a good firm green tomato. Using a tomato that is beginning to ripen will result in a mushy tomato. The perfectly cooked green tomato will have an almost still crisp outside and just softened inside.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 Cup Buttermilk*
1/2 Cup Flour, divided
1/2 Cup Cornmeal
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
2 Large Green Tomatoes sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness
*Just a quick note on the buttermilk. I found this handy dandy cannister of powdered buttermilk and use it for every recipe that calls for it. I always end up throwing away a carton of buttermilk because I only needed 2 tablespoons.
Heat oil to 375 degrees. A quick test is to drop a small piece of bread in the skillet. If it floats to top and turns golden brown, the oil is hot enough. This is critical. If the oil is not hot enough, it will only yield greasy, soggy, tomatoes. Yuck!
Slice tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and set aside to let them sweat. When ready to begin cooking, pat them dry before beginning your dredging.
• Combine egg & buttermilk in shallow dish
• Combine 1/4 cup flour and cayenne, if using, in another shallow dish
• Combine remaining 1/4 cup flour and cornmeal, and salt & pepper in a third shallow dish
• One at a time, dredge tomato slice in flour, dip in egg mixture, then dredge in cornmeal mixture.
• Lay carefully in skillet.
• Continue with remaining tomatoes. Do not overcrowd the skillet. Cook each tomato on each side until golden brown, approximately 2 to 2 1/2 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Before adding more tomatoes to the skillet, let the heat come back up to the appropriate temperature.
• Place tomatoes on paper towel lined plate to drain off grease. Keep warm.
For a pretty presentation, serve on a piece of leaf lettuce with a remoulade sauce.
• 2/3 Cup Duke’s Mayo
• 1 Tbsp Durkees Famous Sandwich and Salad Sauce (my secret ingredient)
• 2 Tbsp Dill Relish
• 1 Tbsp Capers, chopped
• 1 1/2 Tsp Whole Grain Mustard
• 1/4 Tsp Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
• 1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
• 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
• Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Whisk all ingredients together and chill. You can make up to 4 days ahead of time.