First Frost, Southern Comfort

Frost alert, frost alert!!! If you haven’t noticed already, the temperature has been dipping down quite a bit at night these days. Despite this fact, my tomato plants continue to hang on, producing smaller, but no less tasty, beauties. But all of that will probably come to a screeching halt tonight, as the temps are predicted to get into the -gasp-high 20’s tonight, here at the Shore.  And if you have tomato plants that have been behaving like mine, you’d best hustle out to your garden to grab all those last remaining goodies off the vine.

“But they’re still green! And there’s so many of them. They won’t all ripen on my windowsill,” you complain. Well, quit yer whining, because I have an idea for them. I happened to jump the gun last week and picked most of my vines clean with the frost fears looming. And like the Grinch, I got  a “wonderful, awful idea”  for all those green beauties- fry those suckers!

Oh, yeah, I’m talking about one of the grand comfort foods of Southern origin, fried green tomatoes. They sound mysterious, but they are, in fact, ridiculously easy; you only need sliced tomatoes, salt, flour, egg, and some oil to fry them up in. But, as always, God is in the details. If you take the time to get them drained of excess moisture, and “cure”  them once they’re coated, you will reap great flavor rewards. I promise. Not to mention, they go great with a good, hot soup on a night like this. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Fried Green Tomatoes

4-5 Plump, green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4″ thick

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 tsp. salt, more for sprinkling

oil for frying (canola or peanut oil works great)

Lay tomatoes out on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet. Sprinkle salt on one side of the tomatoes, then turn them and sprinkle more on the other side. Let them sit for about 30 minutes (to draw moisture out of them). Meanwhile, combine flour and salt in a wide bowl or plate, and beat eggs in another bowl. After the tomatoes have been drained, dredge them to coat (both sides) first in the flour (shaking off any excess), then in the egg, and again in the flour. Place them back on the cooling rack. After all the tomatoes are coated, let them stand for another 30 minutes. Fill a frying pan (cast iron is wonderful for this!) with enough oil to come up  1/2″ on the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to about 350 F, and drop in several tomatoes, making sure not to crowd them. Fry until beginning to brown on the bottom, then turn and fry the other side until golden,brown, and delicious. Drain on paper towel until cool, then move to a serving dish. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. When finished, sprinkle with a little extra salt (and maybe pepper) to taste, and serve hot.

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