Long before the movie gave them a name, fried green tomatoes were already famous in the South. This quick and easy dish is great as an appetizer, as a snack, or as a side to your main meal. And, if the “secret is in the sauce,” we’ve got a quick and easy dipping sauce that makes them that much better.
I’ve tried fried green tomatoes before, but I declare, these turned out to be about the best I’ve ever had. The last time I tried, they were just a bit too tart for my personal liking. I really think it was because I rushed through them and didn’t give them time to fully cook. I also didn’t add one of mama’s favorite ingredients – a little sugar.
I tried for weeks to do this recipe. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I bought green tomatoes about 3 different times with the full intention of doing this, but it never happened. My tomatoes would start to ripen before I could get around to it, or they would just turn ruby red all together. You really want to make sure that you have completely green tomatoes, without any spots or hints of coloring at all.
Perhaps I just had to be in the right mood to make them. It was certainly worth the wait. These turned out fabulous, if I must say so myself.
And, if you’re like me, they will get you thinking about the movie by the same name. Is the “secret really in the sauce?” I’ve got my own version of a dipping sauce for these that you might want to try. So, if you’re ready…let’s get cooking!
What you’ll need to make the tomatoes:
3 green tomatoes, firm without any hints of pink or red coloring
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 tablespoon butter
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
What you’ll need to make the sauce:
½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Texas Pete hot sauce, if desired
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
Fried Green Tomatoes: You’ll need these ingredients. Begin by rinsing and drying your green tomatoes. Then slice the ends off of each one and discard those pieces. Slice the tomatoes.
Slices should be at least a quarter of an inch thick, maybe a little more.
Place the slices on a wire rack, over some paper towels, to remove as much water from them as possible. To help, sprinkle salt on both sides of the tomatoes and set them aside for about 15 minutes to drain. Before you go to flour them up, pat the slices gently with a folded paper towel. This will remove some of the salt, and more of the moisture.
SEASON the slices on both sides with a little more salt, then some black pepper, all to taste. I also sprinkled each slice lightly with white granulated sugar. Mama added a little sugar to just about everything she cooked it seems. The sugar will help cut through some of the tartness of the green tomatoes.
I prefer to season my tomatoes individually, as opposed to adding the seasonings to the flour coating. This gives me more control of the seasonings and helps to keep the seasonings from burning while the slices are being fried. It’s just a personal preference.
While the tomatoes are draining, go ahead and set up your dredging station. You’ll need three containers to do this properly. I like to use these leftover containers from my favorite Chinese Food Restaurant, or as one of my readers called them, Chinese Tupperware. They work just right for dredging the green tomatoes. Place the cup of flour, buttermilk, and corn meal in its own container.
After the slices have drained for 15 minutes and you’ve seasoned them up, dip each slice, one at a time, through edge container.
Dip a slice in the flour, coating each side completely. Gently shake off any excess flour.
Dip the floured slice in the buttermilk. Flip it over, making sure you’ve completely covered both sides. Gently shake off any excess milk.
Dip the wet slice in the corn meal. Coat each side with a good even coating, and try to roll the edges in the meal as well. Gently shake off any excess.
Place the coated slice back on the wire rack, and repeat the process until all the slices are coated.
Let the coated slices rest for another 10 minutes. This will help hold the coating on the slice as its being fried.
Place about ½ inch of vegetable oil in your skillet and place this over medium heat on your stove top. I also add a Tablespoon of butter to the oil, which will help add some coloring to the slices as they fry. Drop the butter in and let it melt, just before you start frying the tomatoes.
Be sure your oil is hot enough for frying. You can test this with a thermometer, or you can sprinkle a little corn meal into the hot oil. If it sizzles and dances around, the oil should be hot enough for frying.
Add the slices to the hot oil, but don’t overcrowd the pan, as they need room to cook. Watch for the bottom edges to start turning brown, then gently turn the slices over with a fork to brown both sides. Cook them until golden brown on both sides.
Remove the cooked slices from the skillet and place them on a couple of layers of paper towels to drain off any excess oil.
Serve the slices while still warm.
I don’t have an exact recipe for the sauce but it isn’t complicated at all. I used about two tablespoons of Duke’s mayonnaise, and added several drops of Texas Pete hot sauce per serving. I also added some finely chopped sweet pickles, but any sweet relish will work as well. Just mix and add as much as you like until you’ve created your own “secret sauce.” Shhhh … don’t tell what’s in it. Remember, like they said in the movie, “the secret is in the sauce.”
— Steve Gordon is a writer, recipe tester, and lover of all things Southern. You can read more of his writing and step-by-step recipes at tasteofsouthern.com. Click here to find more of his recipes.
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