There are some southern foods, like biscuits and corn pudding, that have gained such a heightened perfection in our minds that we shy away from them in the kitchen. Fried green tomatoes are like that. We know how we’ve been taught to like them – edges crisp and gritty with cornmeal, and tangy succulent bellies – and if we don’t know how to achieve this, then why make them at all?
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So I confess. As a Yankee, I threw caution to the wind and bastardized the hell out of my green tomatoes. Instead of a flour or cornmeal coating, I went for a jagged cloak of panko and Parmesan, which crisped beautifully and tasted deliciously of toasted, nutty cheese. Although I did follow one Southern trick, learned from Beans, Greens, Sweet Georgia Peaches- to not only salt the tomatoes in advance, but also sugar them, too. Half an hour before cooking, you add this seasoning combo, which draws out some of the moisture and also balances the tart sting of a green tomato with a nod of sweetness. One last cheat: I turned to my non-stick pan over my cast-iron. I didn’t want even a crumb of the crust to be left attached to the pan and not in my mouth.
Fried Green Tomatoes with Panko and Parmesan
4 medium green tomatoes, cored and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup panko
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.