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Fried Green Tomatoes

Tart, crunchy, and dripping with juice, fried green tomatoes are rarely considered a breakfast food. But picture a few slices — coated with golden cornmeal — on the plate next to your scrambled eggs or tofu, and I think you’ll reconsider. They’re also a perfect partner for American Potato Cutlets.

Serve these warm, not hot, as the insides of the tomatoes retain a lot of heat and could burn your mouth.

The tomatoes don’t have to literally be green, as long as they’re unripe and really hard. They soften up so much during the cooking process that if they’re at all ripe to begin with, you’ll have mush when you’re done.

Use a metal spatula for turning the tomatoes and scrape the surface of the pan when you lift them. This ensures that you won’t accidentally separate the cornmeal coating from the tomato.

YIELD: 2 to 3 servings (2 to 3 thick slices per serving)

PREPARATION TIME: 5 minutes, plus 20 minutes to cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 large unripe tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal or polenta (rounded measure)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick spray and a little butter for the pan

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS

  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Core the tomatoes, and thinly slice off the ends. Cut the tomatoes into half- inch-thick slices (you’ll get about 3 or 4 slices per tomato) and set aside.

Combine the cornmeal and salt on a dinner plate. Mix until uniformly blended.

Dredge the tomato slices in the cornmeal mixture, pressing it into the cut surfaces of the tomatoes to create a thick coating.

Place a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat for several minutes. Spray the hot pan with nonstick spray and melt in a little butter. After a few seconds, tilt the pan to distribute the butter, then add the coated tomatoes.

Fry the tomatoes on each side for 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden. You might need to add a little more butter at some point to keep them from sticking.

Remove the tomatoes from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack over a tray to cool. (This retains their crispy texture.) Wait at least 5 minutes before serving, as the insides of the tomatoes will have become very hot and will need to cool down a little.

Serve warm, and pass some coarse salt, a pepper mill

VARIATION: Fried Green Tomatoes With Melted Cheddar

  • Follow the main recipe with this adjustment.
  • Preheat the broiler. Place the fried tomatoes in a baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup (packed) grated sharp cheddar. Broil just long enough to melt the cheese.
  • Serve right away.

 

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