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Fried green tomatoes are a Southern favorite side dish but also work well for breakfast. Be sure to use unripe tomatoes that are firm, although they do not necessarily have to be green. Ripe tomatoes will turn to mush. Do check out the variation made with Cheddar cheese.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

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
  • Chipotle Cream

Preparation:

Core the tomatoes, and thinly slice off the ends. Cut the tomatoes into half- inch-thick slices (you will 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 saute 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, and if you like, some Chipotle Cream to spoon on top.

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

Variations:
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.

Cook's Notes:
Serve these warm, not hot, as the insides of the tomatoes retain a lot of heat and could burn your mouth. The tomatoes do not 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 are at all ripe to begin with, you will have mush when you are done. Use a metal spatula for turning the tomatoes, and scrape the surface of the pan when you lift them. This ensures that you will not accidentally separate the cornmeal coating from the tomato.

Recipe Source: Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen (Hyperion)
Reprinted with permission.

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