fried-green tomato blt’s
Two fortuitous events happened a few minutes apart today to bring about the creation of this recipe. First, I discovered a pound of hickory smoked bacon in my freezer from a The Pork Shop. Next, my dad dropped by with a bag of green and ripe tomatoes given to him by my cousin Diane, who has a big garden. I’ll have no problem using up all the lovely ripe red tomatoes, but what to make with those green tomatoes? Well, fried green tomatoes, of course!
Barbara Fenzl, Kim Howard, and I took a “field trip” in late spring to the Queen Creek Olive Mill and The Pork Shop, two fabulous places that are more than worth the 100 mile round- trip from my house! And that is saying something! They are both located in Queen Creek, Arizona and only about 2 miles from each other, so local foodies, arrange your own “field trip” at lunch time and thank me later. Go to the Queen Creek Olive Mill website for directions, hours, and tour times. The Pork Shop does not have a website but I found this great article at BaconUnwrapped that tells all about the store and products. The Pork shop is located at 3359 E Combs Road, Queen Creek Arizona. Call them at 480-987-0101 for information or hours. (since writing this post, The Pork Shop has created a website, check it out HERE.)
Since we are frying, the time is right for a few important frying tips: 1. Once the oil or fat is up to temperature and just before you start to fry the food, sprinkle a couple pinches of coarse kosher salt into the oil to keep it from splattering. 2. Use a splatter screen to keep yourself safe and keep your kitchen cleaner. 3. Work in small batches, the temperature of the oil decreases as soon as you add food to it, so in this case, less is more. 4. Lower food gently into hot oil; never just drop it in. 5. Use tongs, not a fork, when turning food. Be sure to keep the tongs pointed downward when handling to prevent hot oil from dripping down the handles and onto you! 6. To help minimize odors, boil cinnamon sticks or a bay leaf in an small pot of boiling water before, during and a little while after frying plus turn your stove vent on and open the kitchen window when weather permits. 7. Paper towels are fine for draining bacon, but brown paper bags are the best to drain food on because they retain more crispiness. A metal cooking rack placed over a paper towel-lined baking sheet does a good job too.
Fried-Green Tomato BLT’s
1 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 pound sliced bacon
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 pound green tomatoes ,cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 slices whole grain or crusty homemade bread
1/4 pound brie with rind removed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
12 arugual leaves
Blend basil, mayonnaise and butter in processor until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
In large heavy skillet cook bacon until crisp, drain on a brown paper bag or paper towels and reserve 1/4 cup drippings.
Combine the cornmeal and paprika on a plate. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon drippings in the same skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
Sprinkle the tomato slices with the salt and pepper. Coat 5 of the tomato slices in the egg, then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture.
Cook tomatoes until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes, transferring as cooked to a brown paper bag to drain. Coat and cook remaining tomatoes in same manner, using additional drippings as necessary.
Toast the bread slices and spread one side of each slice with basil mayo.
Make sandwiches by layering 2 slices of the bread with brie, arugula, tomatoes, and bacon. Top with remaining bread slices. Slice in diagonally in half and serve.
Makes 2 sandwiches