It’s easy to take tomatoes for granted when you live in the South, where the growing season is virtually year-round. In Charleston, one chef told us that he has tomatoes every month but December and January!
In New York, however, most of our tomatoes taper off by mid-September as fall produce makes its way into the markets. However, there is one very tasty by-product of summer’s last harvests: green tomatoes. Farmers pick the green tomatoes before the cold fall weather, as these unripe tomatoes won’t have enough time to ripen before the hard frosts come in.
Green tomatoes, unlike their sweet summer counterparts, are crunchy and tart with a flavor all their own. While they’re great raw, my all-time favorite preparation involves slicing and breading the tomatoes before frying them and serving them hot with a sprinkle of sea salt and, as we did the other day, a healthy dose of Sriracha mayonnaise.
Fried Green Tomatoes
1 lb. green tomatoes, sliced 1/4-in. thick
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c. milk
Salt and pepper
1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour with salt and pepper, to taste. In a second bowl, whisk milk and egg together. In another bowl, mix cornmeal with salt and pepper.
2. Dredge tomato slices in flour, followed by the egg mixture, followed by the cornmeal. Make sure that each slice is thoroughly coated, but not too wet.
3. Heat 2 cups of canola oil in a deep, heavy frying pan. When it reaches 350 degrees, fry the tomato slices for approximately 2-3 minutes per side, turning the heat down a bit if they begin the burn. Drain on a paper-towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt (preferably Maldon) while still hot.
If you’d like to try them with Sriracha mayonnaise, just mix good-quality mayonnaise (we like Empire Mayonnaise out of Brooklyn) with Sriracha to taste. Start with just a teaspoon or so, and then increase according to your spice tolerance.
Even though the colorful heirlooms of summer are gone, fried green tomatoes make for an equally-satisfying warm treat on a fall day.