Sunday, July 15, 2012

Polish Fried Green Tomatoes

I don't think anyone in Poland has ever heard of fried green tomatoes. For that matter, they are not very common outside of the US south. However, I made the world's best fried green tomatoes earlier today, and I want to share my tips and techniques. And, because the best tomatoes I've ever eaten (outside of those from my Dad's garden) were from roadside stands in Poland, I've decided to call my recipe Polskie Sma┼╝one Zielone Pomidory -- Polish Fried Green Tomatoes! So here's how I did it.

First off, tomato selection is key. I much prefer green tomatoes that have the barest hint of pink to them. But use caution--if you buy them, you must use them the same day or refrigerate immediately--they will go from green to slightly pink to ripe in the blink of an eye. Why not totally green? I find that solid green tomatoes are just a bit too hard when cooked. When you get one that is just at the very earliest stages of ripening and fry it, you'll find the inside is a bit more tender and juicy. But caution, if really starting to turn, the inside will become mush. It's imperative that you get tomatoes with only the very slightest hint of a pink blush--trust me on this.

Preparation and technique are key here, and there are seven distinct things you'll need. Get them ready in advance:

  1. Green Tomatoes, sliced thin and evenly, about 1/4 inch--no more! Once sliced, lay on some paper towels to dry them.
  2. First dry coat: Mix equal parts of masa harina (corn flour) and cornstarch. Add some cayenne (be generous, very generous) and salt. Mix well.
  3. Wet coat: Beat three eggs with a scant quarter cup of milk or buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper and add some tobasco. Then add more tobasco.
  4. Breading Coat: Take equal parts of masa harina (corn flour) and find ground cornmeal. Add about a third more fine bread crumbs. Add salt and cayenne. Add more cayenne. Trust me.
  5. heat about 1/4 to 3/8 inch of canola or vegetable oil in a heavy skillet to 350 degrees. Monitor the temp--too hot and your breading will burn, too cold and your finished treasures will be oily
  6. Remoulade. You need a bit of topping or dipping sauce. My preferred sauce is a quarter cup of mayonnaise, a few tablespoons of sour cream, a tablespoon or two of ketchup, and a few tablespoons of horseradish. Mix well and let sit a bit. You can make it ahead (I usually make it first to give the flavors time to meld).
  7. Plates for serving.
How to put it all together:  
  • Take your sliced and dried green tomato slices
  • Using the wet-hand/dry-hand method, first dip in the first coating. This makes them very dry so the wet coating sticks.
  • Then dip in the wet coating.
  • Finally, put in the breading coating. pack it on top, make sure it's completely covered. 
  • Now set on a rack and let sit. They can sit up to 20 minutes and that's good for them as it lets the dry ingredients hydrate a bit
  • Gently lay in the hot, 350-degree oil. 
  • Fry about 2 minutes on the first side, then turn with a tongs and fry another minute or two until golden.
  • Transfer to a wire rack that's been placed on some newspaper or paper towel--this allows any excess oil to wick away and keeps them from getting soggy or oily. Do not salt at this time, unless you've been stingy with the salt in all the other layers. If you were generous enough, they'll be perfect, trust me!
  • Fry in small batches. You can keep warm in a warm oven. They really need to sit about 3-5 minutes before they're cool enough to eat.
  • Now, plate and enjoy. You will be amazed at the great flavor--you'll taste the corn a bit.
Now, as they say in Polish: Smacznego! Enjoy! Good Eats!


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