Friday, August 8, 2008
It's not often that I like deconstructed meals. They can sometimes be pretentious and off putting, although I must confess that I have enjoyed a few, especially several years ago when every chef on the planet seemed to be deconstructing everything. I generally don't cook that way myself, but the other day I finally decided to apply some pretentious behavior to my own cooking. I'd excitedly purchased several green tomatoes at the greenmarket hoping to make classic fried green tomatoes. After a few days of mulling over the dish I came to the conclusion that I probably wouldn't want to eat an entire plate of just fried green tomatoes for dinner. So, after a few more days of putting off using the tomatoes because I had no idea what else to do with them, I started coming up with ideas.
I started by thinking about what I like to do with regular tomatoes. Other than salads, soups, and sauces I don't actually do much with them, and I don't even really like them on my sandwiches. The one exception is of course the BLT. And then it came to me: replace the tomato in a BLT with a fried green tomato. But, that would mean that the fried green tomato wouldn't be front and center, so from there I decided that they would act as the "bread" of the sandwich, enclosing the bacon and lettuce between the two fried tomatoes. After giving it some more thought I realized I probably couldn't pick up the BLT that way, so finally I decided on what you see pictured above. In lieu of making a full main course or sandwich, I decided on a somewhat deconstructed BLT inspired appetizer.
It just so happened that the mozzarella I had was exactly the same size sliced as the tomatoes, so I decided to fry up the green tomatoes in a crispy and spicy coating, then top it with a thick slice of mozzarella, crispy applewood smoked bacon and crispy lettuce. Fried green tomatoes are more tart and a bit more firm than ripe red tomatoes, so the crispy coating and some sweetness from the cheese and bacon were perfect matches for the green little guys. I ended up absolutely loving the dish, and it was actually quite pretty as well. It would also be lovely with a mesclun salad on top drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Perhaps I'll try that next time with the tomatoes I had left over. In the meantime, here's what I actually made:
Fried Green Tomato BLT
2 green tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 tsp spicy smoked paprika (or 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper)
2 eggs, beaten
vegetable, canola or corn oil
5 strips crispy bacon, cut in half
10 1/2 inch slices of mozzarella
1/2 a head of crunchy lettuce
1. Combine cornmeal and paprika in a plate or shallow bowl.
2. Season each tomato slice with salt and pepper. Coat tomatoes on all sides with egg, then cornmeal.
3. Fry each slice in 1/4 inch of oil until golden brown on each side. Remove to a paper towel covered plate to drain and cool slightly.
4. Top each fried green tomato with a slice of mozzarella, two halves of bacon and crispy lettuce. Enjoy!