End of Summer Fried Green Tomatoes

October 29, 2015

Start to finish: 35 minutes
Hands on time: 35 minutes

My son brought me a big bag of green tomatoes from his garden the other day. What could we possibly do with all these hard round green globes? I say fry them up. Most everyone gets excited about ripe summer tomatoes. But I’m addicted to those end of summer green ones.

It all goes back to my youth in West Virginia. Dad loved tart-fried green tomatoes and about once a year (yes, it was a special treat) a friend would give my dad and bag and mom would fry up a few for the family. I think she used crushed saltine crackers instead of the panko that I use as breading today. I can see her crushing those crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. The bag always sprang a leak and the crumbs would fly onto the counter, floor and general kitchen area – which may be why she didn’t enjoy making fried green tomatoes so much.  But, I remember how those crispy fried rounds were so delicious and we ooohed and ahhhhed over those fried green tomatoes as if it was a dish from a 4-star chef. And then mom was off the hook for another year until someone would bring dad more green tomatoes from their end of summer garden. green tom 2_200

But don’t let this tasty treat be a once a year occurrence for you. October fried tomatoes are the other end of the spectrum from their juicy red summer brethren  and go wonderfully with simple grilled or roasted meats. It’s okay if they’re even a little on the pink side and will fry up deliciously. They need no garnish with their crunchy exterior and slightly tart-soft interiors. All you need is a friend with a few more green tomatoes than will ever ripen on the vine.

3 large green tomatoes, sliced between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch thick
Salt for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more

Salt and pepper the tomato slices. Beat the eggs in a shallow wide bowl and measure out the flour and panko on separate plates.

Dredge the tomatoes in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the slices into the beaten egg and then dredge them into the Panko to coat the tomatoes completely. Set them aside on a cutting board or on a rack set over a sheet pan if you have one.

Now you’re ready to cook: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When it shimmers and is hot add about 5 of the breaded tomato slices to the hot pan and brown the first side, about 2 minutes, flip them over with a spatula and brown the other side, another 2 minutes adding more oil if necessary. Transfer the tomatoes as they are browned to a paper towel lined sheet pan and continue to cook the remaining tomatoes in the same way. You may need to lower and then raise the heat or add a little more oil accordingly.

You can keep the tomatoes warm in a low oven (200°F) for up to 30 minutes.

Serve with simple roasted or grilled meats for an extra special weeknight meal.

In the glass: I look for something light and refreshing in the glass to go with this end of the season meal. Something like an Oregon Pinot Gris from Elk Cove or an inexpensive Pinot Grigio from Italy reminds me of summer.

In my ears: I just heard this on the car radio and it takes me back to the early 70’s Elton.

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