What else do you do on a flight that’s been delayed, dropping you at your destination in the middle of the night? Some people read; the smarts ones sleep. Not me. I start thinking about food and how I’d love to have a drink of water, but I hate how they charge you an astronomical amount of money for a tiny bottle of water. So, since sleep eludes me and my thirst isn’t life-threatening, writing is a quite suitable way to pass the time.
I finally picked the first tomato from my very slow growing plants. In the meantime, I’ve visited my farm stand. It’s not actually mine. I don’t own it or even work at it, but I do frequent it, so in that regard it’s mine.
Several pints of cherry tomatoes have skipped their way to my fridge. Beefsteaks and Romas have been set to flame and charred to mix it up with pasta and just plain fork to mouth. All of these are glorious renditions of the red hued nightshades. Then came the basket of not-ripe, firm green tomatoes; the stuff of book and movie dreams.
I remember my Granny dredging slabs of green tomatoes, which were those picked just before the first frost, with flour, an egg wash and seasoned cornmeal. She had what seemed to be an enormous cast iron skillet that did overtime kitchen duty. A good inch of vegetable oil would be heated until a drop of water would sizzle – which would effectively be about 350 degrees. Then t hose gussied up tomato slices would be dropped into the bubbly oil to fry crisp and golden.
I’m not so much into the whole frying thing, but I want the crunch of the cornmeal crust against the tang of the soft, cooked flesh of the green tomatoes. My original thought was to bake them in the oven, but it was too stinkin’ hot. The next best thing was my grill. I’d have heat and smoke, which would mean extra flavor with the crunch.
One of my new “do’s” when something calls for cornmeal is to substitute polenta or grits. I did this one time when making cornbread. I ran out of cornmeal and heaven forbid that we should have chili without cornbread. Needless to say, the crunch factor was off the charts and now this accident is done purposefully.
“Fried” Green Tomatoes
4 large green tomatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup polenta
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons 21 seasoning or similar product
Heat the grill to 425 degrees.
Wash and pat dry tomatoes and slice into ½” rounds.
Mix flour and 1 teaspoon salt together on a plate.
Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish.
Mix cornmeal and remaining spices on a plate.
Lightly oil a baking sheet.
Dredge the tomato slices in flour, dip in egg wash and then coat with the cornmeal mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the messy fun until all slices are wearing a crumb coat.
Place on a hot grill and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning the tomato slabs once during the process. Total cooking time will be 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve the green tomatoes with fresh pico de gallo and avocado or spice up plain mayo with chipotle. Switch up a traditional Caprese with fried green tomatoes topped with mozzarella, basil and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Savoring the late season – Missy