Leave it to my husband to come up with one of the most delicious fried green tomatoes that I have ever eaten. I love it when he cooks. He just dives in, totally unintimidated by any complicated procedure. There isn’t really anything complicated about this dish. But it does require several steps to arrive at the finished product. Some of the steps can be done ahead of time. I am planning on making the Sweet Tomato Jam that goes on top as a condiment that I keep in the fridge at all times. It will have many uses.
But enough from me. Here is what David has to say.
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WITH BACON, PIMENTO CHEESE, AND SWEET TOMATO JAM
The basic idea for this delicious combination came from an episode of Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel in which they visited Yardbird Southern Table and Bar in Miami. They did not include the recipe on the website, but I watched them closely as they made this dish on the show. They fried the green tomatoes, topped them with their own house-made pimento cheese, a slice of pork belly bacon, and some sweet tomato jam. I had never heard of sweet tomato jam, so I Googled it and found quite a few different recipes. After reading several of them, I wound up combining two recipes to take advantage of the best aspects of both. We didn’t have any pork belly bacon, so I substituted regular thick-sliced, apple smoked bacon, and used store-bought sharp cheddar pimento cheese spread.
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
This is a basic recipe for making pretty good fried green tomatoes. Two slices per person is plenty once you add all the other goodies. One green tomato will produce at least four 3/8 inch slices, so slice up as many as you need. The amounts below are enough for two medium size tomatoes.
2 green tomatoes, cut into 3/8 inch slices
Salt to taste, Pepper to taste
1/3 cup flour, or more as needed
1/2 cup Seasoned Panko Bread Crumbs, or more as needed
1 egg, or more as needed
A splash of milk for the egg wash
Enough cooking oil to fill your pan about 1/2 inch deep
Heat the oil in a large deep skillet until the surface is shimmery. In the meantime, lightly salt and pepper both sides of the green tomato slices. Make an egg wash with one or more eggs and a little milk in a bowl large enough to accommodate the biggest tomato slice. Mix the flour with a little salt and pepper in another bowl, and pour the panko crumbs in a third bowl. Flour both sides of the tomato slices, then coat thoroughly with the egg wash and dip in the panko crumbs. Place the crumby tomato slices on a plate until the oil is hot, then place several slices in the pan without crowding too much and fry until golden brown on one side, then flip and fry until golden brown on the other side. Remove the slices to a paper towel covered baking tray and place in a warming oven while you continue with more batches if necessary.
In the meantime you should have fried some thick-sliced bacon until crispy. You will need one slice of bacon for each tomato slice. You can keep the bacon in the warming oven until ready to assemble. When all of the tomato slices are fried and you are ready to serve, spread each slice with a dollop of pimento cheese, top with two half-slices of bacon, and top that with a dollop of sweet tomato jam. (Recipe below)
SWEET TOMATO JAM
You can use any kind of tomatoes that suit your fancy. I used a mix of Mountain Reds, Romas, and Cherry Tomatoes. About 3 pounds total made about 2 cups of finished jam.
3 lbs of most any kind of tomato
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, if you don’t have smoked
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or a little more if you like it spicy
Peel the tomatoes by placing in boiling water for about 1 1/2 minutes and then move to an ice water bath in a large bowl. After they cool, you can easily remove the skin by hand. Cut the tomatoes into a medium course chop and place in a large pot. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir it all together and let it sit for half an hour to generate some liquid before heating. Bring the mixture to a boil uncovered while stirring occasionally, reduce the heat to a heavy simmer and continue to cook uncovered, and stir once in a while to make sure it isn’t sticking and burning on the bottom. Some recipes say it only takes 35 minutes of cooking to reach jam consistency, but it took me about an hour. I think I started out at too slow a simmer and the liquid wasn’t boiling off quickly enough. After about 45 minutes the mix was still pretty soupy, so I turned the heat up a little and it finished in another 15 minutes. Next time I will start with higher heat and stir more often so it doesn’t burn. The result is a delicious sweet yet savory jam that is not only super well-suited to the fried green tomatoes, but will also be delicious on crostini.