Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes with Southern Creole Remoulade | ContraryCook.com

I’ve been living in Baton Rouge for almost six weeks now but I have *yet* to try fried green tomatoes! I’ve only seen them on the menu at a few places (Chelsea’s Cafe and at Mike Anderson’s) and I was starting to wonder if fried green tomatoes were really a “classic Southern delicacy” at all (or if the popular dish had just become another Southern stereotype).

I have found a few references that suggest that fried green tomatoes didn’t originate in the South at all, but that they actually originated in the Northeast by Jewish immigrants in the 1930’s. But recorded history shows that the tomato plant was introduced to America hundreds of years earlier (via the South), and so I have my reservations on this theory. Some say it was introduced by American Indians even a hundred years before that! Life was tough at the end of the 15th century, and I’m pretty sure those resourceful folks found a use for their unripe green tomatoes, even if it wasn’t frying them in corn meal. They didn’t waste anything back then, their survival depended upon it.

Fresh Garden Green Tomatoes | ContraryCook.com

Regardless of who you believe, they are indeed a Southern delicacy, and Southerners really do eat fried green tomatoes!

Fried green tomatoes are traditionally found as a side dish in the Southern states, made from unripe green tomatoes, dredged in a buttermilk batter (but not always), and then coated with coarse cornmeal and fried (usually in bacon fat) in a shallow pan. In the South they are usually served with a cold and tart Creole remoulade (The story of Creole remoulade is another future post!).

Apparently, because of the warm Souther weather, tomatoes just grow like crazy and the green ones are purposely picked before they are ripe simply to keep the plants from collapsing due to the weight (and to encourage a bunch of them to ripen to a traditional red). In New York, where I’m from, there is a shorter growing season, so we’ve never had to worry about that. We usually just try and do *something* with the green ones after the season ends and the plants are about to die due to frost (pickling, salsas, relishes, etc.). We Northerners never pick the green ones on purpose!

As an experiment, instead of tasting them at a restaurant first, I decided to try and make them myself at home, and then compare them in a restaurant as prepared by a professional chef later. I looked at a dozen recipes for both fried green tomatoes and classic Southern Creole remoulade (both oil-based and mayonnaise-based) and then came up with a couple of recipes based on my particular tastes while trying to stay true to the Southern tradition.

A Classic Southern Creole Remoulade | ContraryCook.com

Fried Green Tomatoes with Southern Creole Remoulade | ContraryCook.com

First, obviously, you’ll need to find some green tomatoes. Curiously, I couldn’t find any at the local Whole Foods or Albertson’s Market here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but I did find beautiful green tomatoes at Southside Produce over on Perkins Road (Fellow Foodie Jeremy Wells has a nice post about Southside Produce on his Faire les Courses Blog.). The opening photo of green tomatoes at the top of this post was shot as Southside. Pretty good produce! Below are the recipes I followed for both fried green tomatoes and Creole remoulade.


Creole Remoulade

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This is a classic Southern Creole remoulade from ContraryCook.com

 

Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Southern/Creole
Yields: 2 Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup celery (chopped fine)
  • 2 tablespoon garlic (minced through a garlic press)
  • ½ cup green onions (chopped fine)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup parsley (chopped fine)
  • ½ cup creole mustard (I used TABASCO coarse ground mustard)
  • ½ Cup Ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
And here’s how you make it:
  1. In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours so all of the flavors meld.

Fried Green Tomatoes

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A classic Southern fried green tomatoes recipe from ContraryCook.com

 

Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Southern/Creole
Yields: 2 Servings
Ingredients
  • 2-3 green tomatoes (cut in ¼ slices)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal (traditional) or 1 ½ cups panko crumbs (coarser)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
And here’s how you make it:
  1. Place Tomato slices on a rack, sprinkle with salt, and let them rest for 15 minutes. The addition of the salt and allowing the Tomatoes to rest will release some of the water content.>/li>
  2. In a glass bowl, whisk together the egg and the 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
  3. In another glass bowl, mix 1/2 cup cornmeal or Panko, a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  4. In another glass bowl, add 1/2 cup regular flour for “pre-breading”.
  5. Coat each tomato in the plain flour mixture.
  6. Dredge each tomato in the egg/buttermilk mixture and coat in the cornmeal mixture.
  7. let them sit on the rack and rest for 5 minutes before frying. This allows the crumbs to set.
  8. Heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat and add tomatoes (don’t crowd them).
  9. Fry tomatoes 4 minutes on each side.
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