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Fried Green Tomatoes

Southern cooks never pass up an opportunity to serve crispy, tangy, fried green tomatoes. (These are hard, unripened tomatoes, not ripe green-skinned heirloom varieties.) They are great with baked ham, and make a tasty breakfast topped with crisp bacon, especially if you add the bacon fat to the pan when you fry the tomatoes.

Ingredients:

For the rémoulade:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (purchased, or see recipe at left)
  • 1 Tbs. minced cornichons
  • 1 Tbs. nonpareil capers, rinsed
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp. spicy brown mustard, preferably Creole
  • 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced 
  •  
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 sp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 3 green (unripened) tomatoes (about 7 oz. each)
  • 1 cup canola oil

Directions:

To make the rémoulade, in a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, cornichons, capers, parsley, tarragon, mustard, anchovy paste and garlic until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Meanwhile, in a shallow dish, mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. In a second shallow dish, whisk together the milk and eggs until blended. Spread the cornmeal in a third shallow dish. Have ready a baking sheet.

Core the tomatoes and cut crosswise into slices about 1/4 inch thick. One at a time, dip the tomato slices into the flour mixture to coat evenly, shaking off the excess. Dip into the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and then in the cornmeal, patting gently to help it adhere. Transfer to the baking sheet.

Preheat an oven to 200°F. Set a large wire rack on another rimmed baking sheet and place near the stove. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. In batches to avoid crowding, add the coated tomato slices to the hot oil and cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn the slices and fry until the other sides are browned, about 2 minutes more. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the tomatoes to the rack and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining tomatoes. Serve hot, passing the rémoulade on the side. Serves 6 to 8.

Variation: In New Orleans and elsewhere in the South, you will often see fried green tomatoes topped with a mound of fresh lump crabmeat. Serve with a dollop of the rémoulade or lemon aioli (see recipe at left).

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).