Monday, June 15, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Squash, Fried Carrots

Anxious for my tomatoes to hurry up and ripen on the vine, I decided to pick a few of these firm plump green ones and fry them up for a snack.

After scouring the internet for some good fried green tomato recipes, I settled on a very simple flour dredge: 1/4 cup flour dumped onto an empty plate. Since I wasn't particularly in the mood for an extremely tart finished product, I mixed into the flour about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. That's it. No salt, pepper, spices. Just flour with a smidge of sugar.

I also decided to make the most out of the prospect of making a mess in the kitchen and sliced up and parboiled some carrot stick quarters about 3" long, and cleaned up some squash and set them all aside to drain so I could experiment with all the various batter recipes I'd seen.

First I fried up six tomato slices about 1/4" thick in olive oil using the simple flour-sugar dredge, and let me tell you the sugar really does kill the tart aftertaste of fried green tomatoes. These were the best I've had in years.

For the remaining vegs, I used vegetable oil as it can get alot hotter without smoking. I wanted a really hot grease pan to keep the liquid batter from separating from the veggies so quickly.

I made up a tempura batter using buttermilk instead of water: 1 egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk, the rest of the flour from the tomato dredge and an additional 1/4 cup more, and two ice cubes to keep the batter cold.

I fried up half the carrots simply dipping them into this batter and dropping them into the oil one at a time. The batter did not stay on the carrots too well, but the carrots came out deliciously sweet and tender like I'd expected.

Next I fried up a handful of thinly sliced crookneck squash, by first sprinkling the slices with a dusting of corn starch then dipping them into the batter and dropping them into the hot oil. The corn starch, scant that it was, helped keep the batter on the veggie and also hardened into a tiny inner shell to give the veggies a crispier bite. This was pretty good, I can't say I've ever had crunchy fried squash before, but if that's what you're into, then definitely use a light corn starch dusting before you dip it into the batter.

For the next evolution, I mixed the corn starch residue into the batter, which was probably a little less than a teaspoon of corn starch. I fried up another handful of sliced squash by dipping them straight into this batter and into the oil one at a time. No pre-batter dredge of any kind. The batter stayed on the veggies much better this time, perhaps the corn starch helped stiffen it enough to stay on the flesh. These closely resembled the fried squash I grew up eating. Yum.

Next up, I sprinkled plain flour onto the squash before dipping into the batter. These came out very similar to the ones right before with just a tad thicker crust.

Finally I coated the remaining carrots with flour before dipping them into the batter and into the oil. OMG! THIS is the FRIED CARROT RECIPE of the CENTURY. The tomatoes and squash came out great, but of all the veggies you can fry, carrots are my absolute favorite. They always come out soft and so so sweet.

What a wonderful Sunday afternoon! By the time I was done, I'd eaten about half the outcome and was too full to even think about fixing supper.

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