Tomatoes right now are just too good, and we have been consuming them in any form offered. After being re-introduced to the art of perfectly fried green tomatoes at Digs Bistro (Berkeley, CA) a few weeks ago and delighting in Boot and Shoe Service's (Oakland, CA) version a week later, I knew I had stumbled upon my latest audacious cooking adventure!
My usual obsessive searching unearthed a recipe that uses flour, panko bread crumbs, AND cornmeal, and it seemed that this triumvirate of breading would certainly result in the ultimate of fried green tomatoes. Thank you, Neely's! (First time I've used any of their recipes). This one is entirely worth the mess (wear an apron). The breading has a satisfying crunchy character, while still preserving the delicate flavor and texture of the tomato inside. Please start with good quality green tomatoes and note that a thermometer is helpful for regulating the temp of your oil (a meat thermometer will do for those without a fry one).
POST-FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Fried Green Tomatoes
by Patrick and Gina Neely (Epicurious, April 2009)
6 hard green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk (yogurt works fine, like Straus brand or Trader Joe's European Style)
Dash hot sauce
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups Japanese panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate. Whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce in a shallow bowl or a pie tin. Whisk together the cornmeal and panko bread crumbs in a separate pie tin.
Working with one green-tomato slice at a time, coat the tomato first in flour (knocking off excess), then in the buttermilk, then finally in the cornmeal— bread crumb mixture. Transfer the breaded slice to a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining slices. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a second baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 3/4 inch of vegetable oil in a medium skillet to 350°F.
Working in batches, fry the tomato slices until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked tomatoes to the prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep the cooked tomatoes in the warm oven while you fry the remaining slices. Serve the tomatoes warm.
PS. Digs Bistro also makes an incredible early girl tomato soup - subtle flavors of summer with a memorable garlic crouton. Our dessert came with the joy of Three Twins Organic Ice Cream - Madagascar Vanilla topped with hot fudge and whipped cream (plus a real cherry!).