[From my Cooking from Scratch column.]
The trees aren't really turning colors yet, but you can see a little yellow on the tops if you squint hard. While it's still hot in the afternoon, there's a chilly whisper of fall in the air when I sit on my back porch at night. It's not quite time for October's pumpkins, but August's watermelons are no longer the thing either.
In this slip of time between seasons, I urge you to make up a batch of fried green tomatoes.
Fried green tomatoes are a frugal cook's answer to the transition between high summer gardening season and the relaxed pace of fall. As the days get shorter and colder, homegrown tomatoes hit a point of negative return—there just isn't enough daylight to ripen them red—but, even green, they can still be delicious if you know what to do with them.
In the recipe below, I've just lightly pickled a basket of green tomatoes. It takes a little more thinking ahead—an overnight soak in brine—but the salty crunch is worth it.
I love these with a few spoonfuls of chipotle mayo, but feel free to also use yogurt, Ranch dressing, or whatever other dipping sauce catches your fancy.
Pickled Fried Green Tomatoes
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 ½ pounds green tomatoes (about 4 large)
- 2 teaspoons dill seed
- 2 teaspoons peppercorns
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- oil for frying
First, make a brine. To do so, pour the vinegar, water and salt into a medium saucepan and boil until the salt dissolves.
Meanwhile slice the green tomatoes into about ¼ inch rounds. Put one layer of the slices in a casserole dish just big enough to hold all of the tomatoes, then sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the dill seed, ½ teaspoon of the peppercorns, and one diced garlic clove on top. Continue layering the slices and spices in this manner until all the tomatoes are accounted for, then pour the hot brine over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
When you're ready to fry your tomatoes, fill a large skillet or dutch oven about 2/3 full with cooking oil. Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
While the oil is heating, remove the tomato slices from the brine and pat them dry. Then, crack two eggs in a small bowl and whisk them with a dash of cold water. Pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate.
When the oil reaches temperature, dip a tomato slice into the egg wash, then dredge it through the breadcrumbs. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the tomato slice into the oil. Repeat with the tomato slice's brothers and sisters, working in batches so that you don't overcrowd the pan.
Fry the tomato slices until they're golden on one side, then gently flip them so that the other side gets browned, too. It usually takes me 3-4 minutes to completely cook each slice. Once both sides are done, put the tomato slices onto a cooling rack or a plate lined with a paper towel.
Serve hot with the dipping sauce of your choice.