Monday, September 03, 2012

The BLT and Fried Green Tomatoes - End of Summer Tomato Gluttony

Amazing that it's happened so quickly, but summer is basically over. The good news is that fall happens fast too, and after Thanksgiving it's just a few winter months, and then it's almost summer again. So yes, it's almost next summer already, and that is exciting.

This time of year I eat tomatoes shamelessly. Tomatoes of all colors, shapes, and sizes, at any time of day, with any combination of foods, and prepared in all sorts of ways. I try to be creative and still, some of my favorite late summer tomato dishes are the classics. Really, I ask you, could you turn down a well-made BLT? Could you refuse a plate of fried green tomatoes? I should think not.

The BLT, just in case you require a little tomato inspiration. I like mine on good white bread.

And high quality thick-cut bacon is a must. I'm using Lou's Natural bacon these days, and it's very delicious and not too fatty.
But in the end, this sandwich is about the tomato. It has to be flavorful enough so that it actually offers contrast to the smokey bacon. I've used heirlooms of various colors on a BLT and while I wouldn't kick any of them off my plate,  it is the classic orange variety that gets me on a BLT.

This is a Ramapo tomato grown by star New Jersey farmer Bill Maxwell and it is not to be trifled with. It isn't as firm as some others and therefore gets a little sloppy when in sandwich, but it is well worth it for its wonderful fresh essence-of-tomato flavor. Really though, this is a messy tomato and is better eaten at home where you can get all sloppy with it.

Fried green tomatoes require a little more time but not much more effort. You are slicing green tomatoes to about a half inch thick, coating them in flour, dipping them in a mixture of buttermilk and egg, then dredging in seasoned cornmeal. There are many variations here and all work fine. I like to use breadcrumbs as a solid third of my cornmeal mixture because the crust stays together better after cooking. And I season with salt and pepper, nothing more. I'm sure there are at least 146 correct ways to do this, so do what feels right to you.

After the coating, the dipping, the dredging, and the frying, the hard part of your work is done. Now it's about choosing a vehicle. Fried green tomatoes are delicious as a side dish, but I like them to get top billing. Last week I served them as a first course, interspersed with slices of a beautiful ripe Green Cherokee tomato and topped with green goddess dressing. Green goddess dressing is ridiculously delicious and pretty easy to make, but that's for another time. This was a good dish, by the way. My friend asked for seconds and happily cleaned his plate.

What to drink with this sort of late summer tomato goodness? Anything really, from an acidic white wine to a light red wine. 

I've been enjoying rosé with these dishes. A good Bandol rosé, the 2011 Terrebrune Bandol Rosé, $32, for example, imported by Kermit Lynch, has the complexity, depth of flavor, and the body to stand up to this hearty food, and also the acidity and fresh fruit to cleanse the palate. And there is something about the way Mourvedre rosé works with bacon...But I drank the leftover half of the less ambitious 2011 Domaine Les Fouques Côtes de Provence Rosé Cuvée de L'Aubigue, $14, David Lillie/Chambers Street direct import, with a BLT today and it was great. Then again, I don't need much of an excuse to drink good rosé, especially now that it is almost next summer. 


Barbara said...

I always realized fried green tomatoes were more than a movie but never had a recipe to make them. It actually sounds delicious and I appreciate the accompanying wine suggestion, too.

Do Bianchi said...

I remember when you first turned me on to Terrebrune... And here I am, happily coming back for a second helping... :)

If we ever get you to come visit us in Texas in early summer, when the best tomatoes come in there, I know Tracie P will be geeked to make you hers... fried, obviously, in memaw Georgia's cast-iron skillet... happy end of summer Brooklyn Guy! (Like you, I'm already looking forward to next year's)

Red Wines said...

Just looking at the bacon is making my mouth water!