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Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

Serves 4

The popularity of fried green tomatoes is not limited to the south as many would lead you to believe. The fact is that farmers everywhere have always needed to find ways to use the last of the tomato crop, especially in northern states where tomatoes have to be picked green to protect them from an early frost. The Pennsylvania Dutch can green tomato relishes with some. Others are wrapped individually in newspaper and stored in a cool basement or root cellar to slowly ripen for later use. They also use many in preparations such as green tomato pie or for frying. The only difference I can determine is that the Pa Dutch usually use flour as a coating (the recipe is in the similar and related recipes links), as opposed to the flour and cornmeal mixture used by most southerners. Either is very good. At one time, tomatoes were fried in bacon grease or lard then, in later years, shortening, oil or butter. See the notes below for choosing tomatoes for frying.

Ingredients

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix together the flour and cornmeal. Dredge the tomato slices in the flour mixture to coat both sides; shake off excess. Place in hot pan and brown quickly until slightly softened but not mushy, about 2 minutes per side. Adjust heat as needed. Add more oil as needed between batches. Place briefly on paper towels to remove excess oil, then on a large platter in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Notes: The green tomatoes referred to in this recipe are unripened red tomatoes, not one of the tomato varieties that are naturally green when ripe. Many people use tomatoes that are completely green. I prefer to use tomatoes that have just started to turn color because they are a little less tart. However, keep in mind that the riper the tomato, the softer it will get when fried so you want them when still very green.