It’s fried green tomato time, and I don’t have time to beg from neighbors. Nor did I have time to grow them. But I found the best fried green tomatoes ever in a lifetime of straddling the Mason-Dixon Line. Half Yank (they don’t know tomatoes) and half fading Southern belle, I learned all I need to know about tomatoes from my Kentucky kin. When red, peel ‘em; when green, fry ‘em.
After a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, I learned one can also prepare them. And, I learned this at a winery. Chateau Morrisette is right on the Blue Ridge Parkway and open for wine tastings in a setting that reminded me of Tuscany until I realized the name is French. Anyway, I was mentally somewhere in Europe and expecting – as one does in Europe – the wine to be good.
Not having the proper background to critique wine, I moved on to the restaurant where Chef Sterling Steffens creates magical dishes such as shrimp and grits and a bread pudding with hazelnuts, chocolate chips, and Frangelico. His fried green tomatoes are worth a drive up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway on a bicycle. He was kind enough to share his recipe along with a second serving:
Slice green tomatoes ¼ to ½ inch thick
2 cups of cornmeal; 2 cups of flour; ½ cup cornstarch; 1 tablespoon each of granulated onion, granulated garlic, course ground pepper; 3 tablespoons ground pepper; 2 tablespoons iodized salt
Combine dry breading ingredients and whisk together with ½ cup butter milk and 1 egg. Dredge tomato slices in breading and dip in buttermilk. Dredge again in the breading. Fry in oil until golden brown. Stack with pimento blue cheese dressing between each tomato.
The dressing. Mix the following ingredients in a blender:
28 ounces cream cheese; 1 ½ cup of chopped pimento; 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese; 2 cups crumbled blue cheese; 1 tablespoon each of ground black pepper, granulated onion, and granulated garlic; 2 tablespoons kosher salt.
Garnish with ½ cup pimentos. A flower from your garden is a nice touch.
This dish pairs well with Chateau Morrisette’s award-winning 2012 Merlot.