For the past three years, I have planted tomatoes in my garden in London. I raise them from seeds inside and then gingerly place them outside, supporting them with stakes and hoping for warm weather to help them grow. When I finally see some tomatoes on the vine, the calendar turns to August and nights feel chilly. The lovely late summer heat and sun that tomatoes need to ripen is nowhere to be found and in three years, I have only had a handful of tomatoes turn red. After woefully staring at green tomatoes, I remembered a classic summer Southern dish of fried green tomatoes. Ah, perfect! Uses my tomatoes and they don't have to be ripe.
I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but my family is not actually Southern, nor are we from the Southern US. I grew up there and was influenced by many of the traditions and culture and know about Southern food, but most of the time when I make a classic Southern dish, I have never tried to make it before or seen someone make it. So when I say I remembered a classic Southern dish, I usually have only remembered that this dish and recipes exists, not the taste and fond memories of making said dish. Still, Southern cooking reminds me of home in so many ways, because you would never find some of these foods outside of the US, making them unique and have a particularly strong association with the US to me.
Back to the fried green tomatoes. This, like many good Southern dishes, is fried. Examples = chicken fried steak, fried chicken, deep-fried okra, deep-fried twinkies (don't ask). If you are keeping score, fried = good = Southern.
After picking and slicing my green tomatoes, I prepared a beaten egg and a plate of flour, cornmeal and breadcrumbs for the coating.
Dip each slice in the egg and cover all sides with the breading mixture.
Place the slices in a heated pan with vegetable oil.
The tomatoes will brown pretty quickly, so be sure to turn them regularly. I left them on the heat for 10 minutes or so. That was enough to make sure the breading was browned and the tomatoes cooked, but not mushy.
The green tomatoes hold their shape really well and have a slightly tangy taste. I don't know if this is protocol, but we ate them with leftover creme fraiche, which complimented the taste and texture nicely.
I highly recommend this recipe if you have any green tomatoes on the vine.