Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Dish from "Back Home": Fried Green Tomato BLT

{This is a contribution to the Tomato love recipe exchange, organized by Gimmie Some Oven and Bake Your Day, and supported by Hamilton Beach Can't say no, right? Even better, the recipe exchange is spreading awareness by supporting the International Justice Mission's Recipe for Change, which is working towards eradicating labor slavery within the United States, especially on tomato farms.}

Lately, all I can think about is down home Southern food. I have dreams of fried catfish, encrusted in that crunchy corn meal breading, golden with specks of black. Sauces a plenty, mostly involving mayonnaise and some sort of spice. I want barbecue until the sun goes down and a blues band starts playing. Soon I will be eating enough corn cobs to refill the cornfields. You know what I mean...it is summer in Louisville and these are the things we can all share.

I'm starting the "back home" tour with a Fried Green Tomato BLT, inspired by Lynn's Paradise Café. Lynn's is easily one of my favorites to have breakfast/brunch in Louisville (next to Highland Morning!). Their lunches are fabulous as well. The ambiance is playful, unique, colorful, and super fun. Then you talk about the great service and you have a complete package, including a fun little store with hard to find gifts right when you walk in. Anyways, I am enamored with their Fried Green Tomato BLT, and I decided to make my own version for the Handsome Spaniard before I left BCN. It turned out amazing and I can't wait to make it again.

Some notes on my experience: I fried the bacon on the grill pan because I thought it would be a good idea--and I was very very right! The bacon did not curl up on itself and I was able to reserve the drippings without a ridiculous mess. I reserved some of the drippings and used them to grill-toast the bread for the sandwich. I used fresh spinach leaves for the lettuce part. The fried green tomatoes were made with breadcrumbs (European-style), but I would traditionally go with my Nana's recipe using corn meal, of course. I also modified the mayonnaise into a sandwich sauce because I was making my own anyway. Okay, enough of this, let's just teach you how to make it!

Fried Green Tomato BLT 
with a 
Spicy Sandwich Sauce
Green tomatoes
Corn meal (breadcrumbs work too)
Black Pepper
Spinach, rinsed and stems removed
Slices of hearty bread (we used a multi-grain, but just use your favorite sandwich bread!)

Olive oil
Vinegar -or- Lemon
Chili powder (yes, I used Chimayo)
1 Garlic clove

I'm going to recommend preparing the sauce first, so you can chill it while you are assembling the rest. The base of this recipe is basically the Aïoli sauce that I made in a previous recipe exchange post. Get out the immersion blender, crack a beautiful orange-yolked egg in the bottom, fill it up with quite a bit of olive oil (as much as you want mayonnaise...if you want a ton you can use two eggs, but one should definitely be enough for these purposes), the garlic clove, and a splash of vinegar. Whizz that until you have a beautiful mayonnaise. To keep it from breaking, start the blender from the bottom and slowly blend up as it turns to a creamy mayonnaise--this technique is nearly break-proof and it has never happened to me before (knock on wood).

When your mayonnaise is ready add a few tablespoons of ketchup, until you get a light salmon color. Add chili powder, black pepper, and salt to taste. I mixed it with a spoon and it turned out beautiful.

Next, fry up your bacon until it is crispy. Don't argue with me on this one, you must have crispy bacon on any version of the BLT or you are committing a gastronomic crime. Let them drain on paper towels until you are ready to assemble your sandwich.

Toast the bread on the grill with or without bacon drippings. Alternatively you can also toast them naked in a toaster or in a pan or.... let's be honest--we prepare things with whatever we have. If your spinach is washed, dried, and stemmed then set everything aside for the main event...Fried Green Tomatoes!
Set up an assembly line. First set a frying pan with about 1/2-3/4 inch oil on med-high heat. Prepare a shallow bowl with buttermilk and another shallow bowl with your breading, be it breadcrumbs or corn meal and season it with salt and pepper. If you don't have buttermilk, you can use a mixture of vinegar and milk or lemon and milk to sour it, you just have to wait about 10 minutes for it to get nice and thick--however real buttermilk is always better if available. Dip the slices of green tomato in buttermilk first and then flip them around in the breading until they're well covered. Then, you can start frying them. You know the oil is ready when you flick some of the breading in the oil and it sizzles away. Fry until golden brown on both sides, you can do multiple flips, don't worry. Drain the finished beauties on plenty of paper towels. When they're all finished, you are ready for sandwich assembly!
B=Bacon, L=Spinach, T=Fried Green Tomatoes...S=SAUCE!

On the toast, spread your beautiful Spicy Sandwich Sauce. Top the sauce with the fried green tomatoes. Top that with bacon and spinach and the other slice of toast. All layers are accounted for and your taste buds are about to have the time of their lives!

Mmmmm Fried Green Tomato BLT!
This is not a meal to have everyday, for obvious reasons, but it is a fantastic treat--especially if you have been craving a little piece of southern-fried heaven on your plate. Enjoy with a fresh salad or cole slaw and a tall, frosty glass of iced tea.

Listening to WFPK Radio Louisville with Kyle Meredith

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