It is officially here…summer! Olaf from Frozen is probably twirling in a field of dandelions singing of the virtues of great combinations. In his case, hot and cold. For southerners, it is food pairings usually only found in the summer. One of my favorites is fried green tomatoes. Even my vegetable avoiding husband feels the rumbling in his Georgia born belly when I serve up a plate of Beer Battered Fried Green Tomatoes!
I buy tons of red tomatoes all year long but there is something wonderful about the firmness and tartness of local tomato encased in the crispy blanket of fried batter. As a native Alabamian (although I did have a brief 8 year stint in North Carolina), I grew up less than 10 miles from Irondale, the home of the Whistle Stop Café from Fannie Flagg’s book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. Fannie Flagg also has a cookbook available with the official Whistle Stop Café recipe which I recommend as well. Perhaps it was my geography that gave me a special place in my heart (and tummy) for fried green tomatoes.
Batter recipes can be as varied as BBQ sauce recipes in the south and sometimes can similarly be based on geography. North Carolina is known for it’s vinegar and pepper sauces while Alabama tends to favor ketchup based sauces. Tennessee likes mustard based and ketchup based depending on what side of the state you find yourself. I have found the same applies to fry batters. While I was a student at Auburn University (War Eagle!), a wonderful little eatery called Veggies-To-Go offered fried green tomatoes (seasonally) in a cornmeal batter. My mom, from Birmingham, used the most simple and delicious recipe I have come across of flour, salt, pepper and beer. Her fried green tomatoes always came out crisp and light. In Texas, they sometimes add sugar to the batter and in Louisiana the tomato dish isn’t complete without remoulade sauce.
I found this recipe on food.com and doctored it a bit to come up with my own Frankenstein’s Monster of a delicious batter. I added two different kinds of bread crumbs, some spices and omitted the lemon. To me, the green tomatoes have enough tartness not to need any added to the batter.
Here is my recipe! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!
Caren’s Beer Battered Fried Green Tomatoes
3 Large Green Tomatoes, thinly sliced; less than 1/4 inch is ideal
1 Cup All Purpose Flour ( I used King Arthur.)
1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 tsp of salt (plus extra for season the tomatoes before dipping)
1 tsp of pepper (plus extra for season the tomatoes before dipping)
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp of chipotle chili powder
Almost one entire 12 oz bottle of beer ( I used Shock Top Honey Bourbon Cask Wheat)
vegetable oil (enough to coat your cast iron skillet; it will need to be added to at the start of each new batch)
Slice the tomatoes and lay them out on a piece of wax paper. Salt and pepper each slice on both sides. Add all the dry ingredients in to a medium sized mixing bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the flour and bread crumb mixture. Lightly coat each slice of tomato with some of the reserved dry flour mixture. Add beer to the bowl of flour/bread crumbs until it is the consistency of pancake batter. Dip each floured tomato slice into the wet batter mixture until it is nicely and uniformly covered. Fry in a skillet set on medium high heat until each side is golden brown. Let drain on a paper towel covered plate or cookie sheet. Enjoy!
Leftovers can be refrigerated in an air tight container between sheets of parchment paper. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet so they crisp back up. Just as good the second day!
This recipe certainly worked for me!