If you’re from the South, it’s probably not a big surprise if you see fried green tomatoes on the menu at restaurants. However, if you have yet to venture into the art of Southern cooking, allow us to break it down for you.
Green tomatoes are simply unripe tomatoes. Yes, you heard correctly — unripe tomatoes. But don’t brush them off because they’re not the bright red juicy tomatoes you’re used to seeing in salads or on sandwiches. Green tomatoes are commonly spotted in late summer and early autumn after their growing season ends and have their own unique properties.
Green tomatoes are more firm and dense compared to ripe tomatoes which makes them perfect for frying without resulting in a soggy mess. They also have a tangy flavor that tastes amazing when pickled or added to sauces and salsas. This is one food you definitely have to try to understand the appeal.
Pan-frying green tomatoes is the most common cooking method. All you need to do is take the tomato slices, cover both sides in cornmeal and add to a skillet with oil. For extra crunchiness, you can also add in breadcrumbs. For this recipe, sprinkle some brown sugar on both sides to cut the tang and saute the tomato slices until the brown sugar caramelizes before taking it out of the skillet. Finish it by adding cilantro and black pepper and now you have yourself a perfectly fried green tomato.
There are many ways you can eat this seasonal dish. You can enjoy it on its own or make a buttermilk sauce to drizzle on top. Try it Louisiana-style by placing the fried green tomatoes in between some bread to turn it into a po’boy sandwich or serve it with shrimp remoulade. Next time you have burgers on the grill, top it off with green tomatoes. Before the season ends, be sure to check out all the fresh summer produce that will give your meals that extra seasonal flair.
6 green tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 cup stone-ground white corn meal
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Step 1: Dip 6 green tomato slices into 1 cup cornmeal, coating them well on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and 4 tablespoons butter in a heavy skillet. Add the tomato slices in one layer (you will need to fry them in several batches). Sprinkle the tops with 1/2 cup brown sugar and saute over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 2: Turn the slices and sprinkle with more brown sugar. Continue cooking until the sugar caramelizes. Watch carefully so they do not brown. Turn once more to caramelize the other side. Remove to a warm platter and sprinkle with 1/4 cup cilantro and a few grindings of black pepper.