Fried Green Tomatoes

Last weekend, Roger and I went up to Madison, Wisconsin, to celebrate my birthday and to visit Sara, our badger daughter.  Our other daughter, Amy, had come up Friday night from the University of Illinois to spend Halloween weekend with her sister.  The girls planned a take-off of the movie, The Black Swan, and were going to dress as the White Swan (Amy) and the Black Swan (Sara).  Amy found matching leotards and tutus and glued appropriately colored feathers over each to make their costumes.

Roger and I went up early Saturday morning, met up with the girls and their boyfriends, and went directly to the Farmer’s Market which is located by the State Capitol Building.  The Dane County Farmer’s Market is the largest of its kind in the country featuring producer-only items.  All items are produced locally by the vendor behind the table.  There is no resale of any kind allowed.

I had a fun moment when I spotted a young man who was standing in the market advertising a kitchen shop across the street.  He was dressed in a chef’s uniform, and he was holding an enormous wooden spoon that had to be about 8 feet high!  (I’m tall at 5’8″ but the spoon was still two heads taller!)  Well, of course, I had to have my picture taken with him considering how fond I am of my wooden spoons!

You're going to need a bigger pan!

Anyway, I was in 7th heaven!  As I went from table to table and booth to booth, I was oohing and ahhing at the bounty of fruit and vegetables—not to mention baked goods!  Many of the vendors were giving out samples, and we tried some of the famous Wisconsin cheese curds (both fresh and grilled).  We also tried some magnificent Havarti cheese and bought a block to bring home which Roger and I devoured in a day.  I bought some gingersnaps and whoopie pies (both pumpkin and chocolate) from an Amish vendor.  Other items we came home with were two different kinds of homemade ravioli (asparagus and squash), two different kinds of kale, broccoli, fingerling potatoes, arugula, mesclun, and green tomatoes!

Ever since I saw the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, I had wanted to try some.  Being a Northerner, I’d never had the opportunity to sample these famous Southern style tomatoes.  When I saw them on sale at the market, I seized the opportunity and came home with several.  I searched online for a recipe and couldn’t decide between a couple of them, so I made both!

They are very simple to make, involving what you’d expect—eggs and milk for dipping, flour and/or bread crumbs for coating, some simple seasonings, and then the frying.  One of the recipes used Bisquick rather than flour for coating while the other called for both flour and cornmeal (for added crunch).

Roger grilled a couple of steaks, and we had a big salad to go along with the two different kinds of green fried tomatoes.  The tomatoes were cooked to perfection—golden and tender.  We sat down to eat with great anticipation.  Both of us took a bite of one of the types and ate, quietly and thoughtfully.  Then we took a bite of the second recipe, finished chewing and looked at each other.  Knowing each other as well as we do, Roger looked at me and said, “You didn’t like them either, did you?”  He followed that up with, “I guess that’s why Idgie’s (the lead character in the movie) Whistle Stop Café went out of business.”

I don’t know if it’s that we’re Northerners or that we’re both so used to my Italian cooking, but my taste buds weren’t accustomed to the taste of green tomatoes which struck me as somewhat bitter.  After dinner, I went online to look at more of the reviewer’s comments.  One of the recipes had 298 reviews, and I read every…  single…  one.  About 10 of them made comments to the effect that the tomatoes were bitter and/or bland.  All of the remaining comments were raves.  I noted that a couple of them said they added sugar to the tomatoes to sweeten them.  Some said they salted the tomatoes and let them drain before preparing.

I don’t give up easily without a fight, so I tried both recommendations with the remaining tomatoes I had.  I did find that salting the tomatoes and letting them drain in a colander for an hour improved the flavor by taking away some of the bitterness.  I didn’t care for the sugar addition, but I did try sprinkling them with some Parmesan and that greatly improved the flavor.  I didn’t have any, but I imagine dipping them in Ranch dressing would be good as well.

I am glad that I tried them because I had been curious about fried green tomatoes for so long.   In case you, too, are curious or perhaps have an acquired taste for fried green tomatoes, I thought I would post both recipes for the adventuresome among you.  But, lesson learned for me—I will stick to Italian fried zucchini from now on!

Get out the Parmesan or Ranch dressing!

Fran’s Notes:  I am putting this note front and center.  I highly recommend that you cut the tomatoes (1/4 inch cuts), salt them liberally, and then let them drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes before proceeding with either of the two recipes below.

Fried Green Tomatoes

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Ingredients

  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 2 tbl. seasoning salt
  • 1/2 cup Butter Flavored Crisco

Directions

Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick.  Discard the ends.

Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl.  Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture.

Scoop Bisquick onto a plate add seasoning salt.  Dip tomatoes into Bisquick to coat.

In a large skillet, melt Crisco (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat.  Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet.  Do not crowd the tomatoes; they should not touch each other.  When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side.  Drain them on paper towels.

Source:  A recipe from the Flyte Family Farm

Best Fried Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Discard the ends.

Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl.  Scoop flour onto a plate.  Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate.  Dip tomatoes into flour to coat.  Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture.  Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.

In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat.  Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet.  Do not crowd the tomatoes; they should not touch each other.  When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side.  Drain them on paper towels.

Source:  Recipe from allrecipes

Halloween 1993 - Amy (Raggedy Ann) / Sara (Raggedy Andy)

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