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September 20, 2013

Grazing: Fried Green Tomatoes

They're the stragglers. The slow pokes. The tomatoes that couldn't bother to turn red and sweet before fall arrives. Yet rather than cave to the unripe fruit of our short growing season, you can triumph over climate and subjugate these hard, tart orbs into something crisp and delicious: Fried green tomatoes.

Yes, a movie was named for this tried-and-true Southern specialty, and with good reason: Green tomatoes are firmer and eminently more fry-able than ripe ones, and their tartness softens slightly during frying — yet but still retains enough tang for a satisfying salty-tart-crunch. They take less than 15 minutes to make, and when you bite into one, you'll be amazed by the alchemy that frying performs on their hard little bodies.

TomatoesThe proper coating for fried green tomatoes is a matter of conjecture, but a combo of Panko breadcrumbs and cornmeal, spiked with some pepper and dried oregano, sticks to the tomatoes like a cloak. Your fingers might gunk up during the frying process but you'll be rewarded with tiny slivers of crisp goodness. 

Fried Green Tomatoes

3-4 green tomatoes
1/2 cup flour
One egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (though whole milk can suffice)
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Dried oregano
Fresh ground pepper
Vegetable oil, enough to cover the bottom of a frying pan

Wash and then slice tomatoes 1/3-inch thick. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt to draw out moisture, and set aside. Fill a small bowl with flour, and then whip egg and milk together in another bowl. Fill a third bowl with cornmeal, Panko, a pinch of dried oregano and a few grinds of pepper, and stir to blend.

Place a frying pan over medium heat, and cover the bottom with 1/4-inch of oil. When the oil is very hot, dredge each tomato slice through the flour, then dip into the milk-egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs and place into the pan. Fry each slice until golden brown, about 4 minutes for each side (though I like mine very dark and crisp). Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve.

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