There comes a time when even the most die-hard, speedo-wearing, sun tan-lotion-slatherer (yes, I know this isn’t actually a word), has to admit that summer is over. Gone. History. Perhaps it’s the fact that when you wake up it’s pitch black. Or that you spend your weekends in the Sisyphean act that is called raking leaves. Or you find yourself humming ‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley, a tiny tear in the corner of your eye…
It would be so much easier if we could act like a bear and hiberate for the next five to six months, wake up refreshed and enter a world covered with daffodils. Sadly that won’t happen. And sadly the vegetables of summer — the corn, tomatoes and berries — are gone too. Yes, I know parsnip puree is a treat but you know what I mean.
Not to go all glass half full on you — perish the thought — but there can be the odd upside to Autumn. Take the aforementioned tomatoes. If you can get your hands on some green ones then you have the beginnings of something truly spectacular: fried green tomatoes. To state the obvious, they’re not ripe so they hold their shape when you fry them. They’re coated with flour and egg and then a crumb of some sort and then — did I mentioned they’re fried?
Because there are two basic rules of culinary science: everything is better with bacon and everything is better fried. If you’re still unconvinced, name another dish that has it’s own movie. See, I told you so.
Fried Green Chile Tomatoes
Serves 6 as a side dish
1 lb. green tomatoes, about 6-7 smallish ones
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have any, don’t despair, use milk, reduce it by a tablespoon and replace that with lemon juice — voila!)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Green jalapeño powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
This is a military operation so snap to it! Get three shallow bowls. In one combine the flour with 1/2 tsp salt. In another, places the eggs, another 1/2 tsp of salt and give them a good stir. In the last, place the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, the last teaspoon of salt and the green jalapeno powder. Give a stir to blend.
Remove the stem from the tomatoes and cut them into slices — about 4 or so per tomato. Heat the oil in a skillet to medium-high. The oil should generously cover the bottom. If you have a friend, partner, spouse or neighbor rope them in to help you. Dust the slices with flour, dip them in the egg and then coat them with the cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture. Place them in the hot pan and cook them in the oil until nicely browned — about 2 minutes or so — then flip them and repeat on the other side. Cook one or two first — taste them and adjust the salt or chile powder if you feel it needs more.
Cook the tomatoes in batches — you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Keep the cooked tomatoes warm and then serve at once with wedges of lemon. But to be honest, they’re not bad room temperature either.