Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The tomatoes in my garden took an incredibly long time to ripen this year, a problem shared by many of the backyard gardeners I spoke to in southeast Massachusetts this year. The wet June, followed by the way-too-hot July did not make for a good tomato year. I was able to harvest about a dozen ripe ones, a few at a time, during late August and September, and I left the remainder on the vine as long as I could, but fearing an overnight frost as October waned, I finally picked them all and brought them inside to ripen. Little by little they are turning red, but I did not wait for all to ripen before enjoying them: I selected four of the biggest ones to make fried green tomatoes. I poked around on the web, and in some cookbooks, and in the recesses of my memory to find a recipe that would incorporate the bacon fat I'd saved recently, along with some of the other farm ingredients I had, and finally just took several different ideas and created my own recipe.
I began by heating the bacon fat in the indispensable cast-iron skillet, it didn't look like enough fat to fry up the tomatoes, so I added some canola oil to it, and one diced banana pepper. I cut the tomatoes into thick slices and coated them in a mixture of corn meal, rye flour, salt, pepper, and fresh, minced basil leaves (also from my garden). The tomato slices were placed in the hot oil and fried for a few minutes on each side until they were a golden brown color. Once they were cooked I removed them from the pan and placed them on a paper-towel lined plate, and served immediately, along with a fresh green salad and some home brew beer. James declared that the tomatoes were perfect - "sweet, tart, hot, and crisp" (he added that those same words could be used to describe his sweetheart). Couldn't have asked for a better review of the meal, and the bacon fat did a wonderful job re-seasoning the skillet. It is slicker than Teflon.