Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Southern Fried Green Tomatoes and Beer Battered Green Beans

The county fair was going on in our town last week. There are so many things that I love about fair week, and one of them is the FOOD! Rows upon rows of fried delicacies at my disposal...YUM! I captured this birdseye view of the food vendors at our fair from the top of the Ferris wheel. The glowing lights and the smell of the hot oil were calling to me...


I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of fair food because I spent so much time at the fair while growing up. I was in 4-H and FFA, so when fair week rolled around in my town, my family practically lived at the fair all week while caring for and showing livestock and working our shifts in the buildings.

It might not surprise you to know that my mom was a meal planner too. She often had meals and snacks packed for us during fair week. We also ate our share of lunches and dinners at the Pork Producers stand and when at the state fair, at the Cattlemen's Association. Plus, there were the church, Lion's Club, and local 4-H club food stands that we frequented. (Tip: if you're looking to save a buck at your county fair, head for these establishments. The food is less expensive and often healthier). There were a few junk food splurges during fair week too. No fair week would be complete without a sugary elephant ear or a crispy corn dog, after all. I always made sure to try something new at the fair. It's where I tried my first gyro. And let's not forget those fragrant Italian sausages served up with sauteed onions and peppers. Mmm. If it's fried or served on a stick you're certain to find it at the county fair.

This year, I set out to find something I had not yet tried. For years I've seen people walking around the fair, barbarically tearing at those giant smoked turkey legs. This was something that I'd always avoided.  To me,  a whole upper leg of a turkey seemed like too much of a commitment. Not to mention, I thought it made the people who were gnawing on them as they strolled the midway look like cavemen!  But since I'm all about trying new things, I decided that a monstrous drumstick would be my dinner at the fair last week.

To escape judgement (or maybe to prove a point), I didn't walk with my super-sized drumstick. Rather, I sat down at a table and picked the meat off of the bone as delicately as possible. I'm sure that I was the picture of grace. Miss Manners would have been proud...

The vendor where I purchased my drumstick had conveniently sliced it down the sides for easier removal of the meat.

Here is mine, laid out in front of me.


I have to say that I'm sorry I never tried this before. It was awesomely delicious! It tasted a lot like the meat from the hog roasts that I attended in my youth. The turkey was perfectly smoked and delicious!


After dinner, we decided to look for dessert on our way to tour the livestock barns. Just outside of one of the dairy barns I spotted this:


Holy cow! (pun intended) this operation put my little ice cream maker to shame! I decided to stick around to observe.


The gentleman from Rader's Old Fashion Ice Cream was kind enough to tell me about the "Hit or Miss" (the name for the engine that powers this ice cream maker. If you heard it work you would understand.) and walk me through the process...


before giving us a taste of this wonderful ice cream.


Then it was "straight to the source" for some calf cuddles.


We had a wonderful time at the fair, but I left that night still craving one thing- my favorite guilty fair food indulgence: a big ol' basket of fried veggies! I used to love the fried vegetable stand at our fair. They'd serve up a heapin' helping of fried broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, and onions flaming hot out of the grease. Although I knew the food was too hot, I couldn't resist taking a bite as I departed the long line of fellow fried food junkies and burned off a colony of taste buds. Every. Single. Time.

Sure, I'm well aware that frying them completely defeats and depletes the purpose of vegetables, but this rational thought doesn't make fried veggies any less tasty! Everything in moderation, people...

The next day I decided to see what was available for frying in my garden.

All of these nice, green vegetables sure look healthy don't they?


Well, not for long!

I began by preparing the veggies.

I cleaned and snapped the green beans.


And I sliced the tomatoes.


And the onions.


Then I cut the zucchini into spears.

Hey, I only haul my deep fryer out of the basement a couple of times a year (for Halloween donuts and Super Bowl hot wings). I might as well put it to work!


The tomatoes needed a different preparation and frying method than the other veggies, so I started with them.

I've never tasted a fried green tomato, although I've been holding onto this recipe from Paula Deen's "Deen Family Cookbook" for quite some time. Miss Paula got this recipe from none other than Bea Arthur. Like, Golden Girl Bea Arthur. Pretty cool.  Bea liked to coat her tomatoes with sour cream before breading them. 






Once the tomatoes are coated with sour cream, bread them with a mixture of cornmeal, sugar, salt, and black and cayenne pepper.


Then drop em' into hot oil and fry on both sides until golden. Lift them out with a metal slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving.


Because I had never tasted a fried green tomato before, I was not sure what to expect. I got the sweet taste from the sugar, the sour from the sour cream, the crunch from the cornmeal and the spice from the peppers in that first bite. I liked them. But I was the only one. The rest of my family wasn't crazy about them.


I did see a recipe today that had the tomatoes first dipped in flour, then an egg wash, then a panko-thyme breading before frying. They looked delicious! Maybe my family would like that recipe better?

Dinner wasn't a complete loss. We still had green beans, onions, and zucchini to fry.

For these, I used a beer batter. Beer batter is so easy to make- and so very tasty! Just mix equal parts of light beer...



and flour together. Then season with salt and pepper.


Coat whatever you wish to fry in the batter.


And drop it into 375 degree oil and fry until golden brown, flipping with a metal fork if necessary.


Drain on paper towel-lined plates and season to taste before serving.


I loved the green beans! My family liked them too, although their favorite part of our nutritious (Ha!) meal were the tried-and-true onion rings. I personally thought the fried zucchini took first prize. I LOVE fried zucchini!

Just in case you too want to clog your family's arteries with crispy breaded, fried veggies, here are the recipes:

Bea Arthur's Fried Green Tomatoes from Paula Deen's The Deen Family CookbookSouth Cooking, Food & Wine Books)

2 cups cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups sour cream
4 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/2" thick
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more as needed

1. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, sugar, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Put the sour cream in a separate bowl. Coat the tomato slices in sour cream, then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides well.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Fry the tomatoes, working in batches, until they are crisp and golden, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve hot.

Fried Green Beans Recipe courtesy The Neely's

Prep Time:10 min Inactive Prep Time:-- Cook Time:10 min
Level:Intermediate Serves:4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
Peanut oil, for frying
1 cup beer
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 pound green beans, ends trimmed

Directions
Preheat oil to 375 degrees F.

Whisk the beer, flour, salt and pepper until smooth.

Dip green beans into batter to coat, letting excess drip off. Fry in the peanut oil in batches, until they are golden and crisp. Remove from oil with a spider strainer to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Notes: I used canola oil rather than peanut oil. This batter works well for all types of vegetables.

Enjoy! 

5 comments:

Heidi K Christner said...

What did you use as your dipping sauce for the veggies?

Majid Ali said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julie said...

I've been wanting to try green beans made like this...looks super!

Buy WoW Accounts said...

That looks so delicious! Never tried a recipe like that, fried tomato with a yummy sauce.

Buy WoW Accounts

Krista said...

Heidi,
I went with my family's favorite: Ranch dip! I just mixed some dry ranch dressing mix with sour cream. However, I've tried fried green beans with a wasabi ranch sauce and I really enjoyed it. So if you've got any wasabi, I recommend adding a bit of that too! It adds a nice lil' kick. : )

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