Friday, April 10, 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes with Lemon Basil Horseradish Sauce

     A Cozy Down Home Appetizer!
     Fried Green Tomatoes are a nice light appetizer and they can be served as a light lunch.  When served with a nice dipping sauce, the level of satisfaction increases dramatically.  One simply cannot stop munching on Fried Green Tomatoes if the sauce compliments the flavor!

     Most corporate chain restaurants and restaurants where only the bottom dollar profit margin counts, chefs rely on pre-manufactured profits.  It seems like every middle of the road restaurant serves Ranch Salad Dressing (Buttermilk Dressing) as a dipping sauce with nearly every deep fried appetizer on the menu.  Honestly, if a cook in such a restaurant was asked to make Ranch Dressing from scratch with no recipe, the chances are that the cook would not know how.
     Relying on manufactured products limits the potential of talented cooks and culinary school graduates.  People do not apprentice or attend college just to get hired in a restaurant to open up jugs of pre-made salad dressing for a low wage!
     Customers get tired of seeing the lack of creativity on a menu and eventually consumer interest declines.  That same old jug of Ranch Dressing that every cheap restaurant serves as a dipping sauce is worn out like an old shoe.

     When offered Ranch Dressing with an appetizer, I always say "No thanks.  Do you have anything else?"  When the waitress response is "Well ... I think we have a Blue Cheese Dressing" then I know that I am dining in the wrong restaurant, because more than likely every item in the kitchen is a pre-manufactured product.  I do not go to a restaurant to eat pre-manufactured products.  I go to a restaurant to eat creative food that was made by cooks that have talented skills and imagination!  
    With this in mind, what would be a good dipping sauce for Fried Green Tomatoes?  If a cook says Ranch Dressing, the cook can be viewed as being a chain restaurant kitchen robot that has no imagination!

     Thinking of a nice dipping sauce that compliments the flavor of Fried Green Tomatoes is easy to do.  Flavors that classically go well with tomatoes, like lemon and basil are a good choice.  For gentle tasting fried vegetables, a dipping sauce with a zesty flavor is great choice.
     Horseradish adds a much needed zesty flavor to the lemon basil dipping sauce.  The flavors go well together as long as the flavors are balance.  Most of all Lemon Basil Horseradish Sauce tastes a lot better with Fried Green Tomatoes that the same old tired Ranch Dressing!  Add some pizzaz and create something new is the moral of the story!

     Lemon Basil Horseradish Sauce:
     This recipe yields almost 1/2 cup of dipping sauce or enough for 1 fried appetizer.
     The strength of fresh horseradish root can vary with the season.  Use your judgement when adding horseradish to this sauce.
     This sauce can be thinned to a salad dressing consistency by adding a little bit of water. 
     Place 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise into a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of sour cream. 
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. 
     Add sea salt and white pepper. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced fresh basil. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of fine grated horseradish. 
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Refrigerate the lemon basil horseradish dipping sauce for 10 to 20 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Fried Green Tomatoes:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer portion that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Green unripe tomatoes are not always offered on store shelves.  Ask a produce clerk to check the tomatoes in the storage area to see if there are any tomatoes that are still green.  Often a grocer will ripen tomatoes in the back of the produce department before they are marketed.  
     In southern states, green tomatoes are pan fried in a cast iron skillet.
     Step 1:  Heat some vegetable frying oil in a deep cast iron skillet to 360ºF.  The oil should be about 1/2" deep.
     Step 2:  Cut 1 large green tomato into 1/4" thick slices.
     Dredge the green tomato slices in flour.
     Dip the floured tomato slices in plain egg wash.
     Dredge the tomato slices in fine plain French bread crumbs that are seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Place the breaded green tomato slices side by side in the hot oil.
     Use tongs to flip the green tomato slices, so they fry evenly on both sides.
     Fry the breaded green tomatoes, till the breading is crispy golden brown.  (CGB!)
     Step 4:  Place the fried tomatoes on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Serve immediately!

     Fried Green Tomatoes with Lemon Basil Horseradish Sauce:
     Overlap the fried green tomatoes slices on a piece of leaf lettuce on a plate.
     Place the lemon basil horseradish sauce in a ramekin and set it in the plate.
     Garnish the ramekin with lemon slices.

     Wasn't there a movie called "Fried Green Tomatoes" or something? 
     Fried green tomatoes are a tradition in the American South.  Fried green tomatoes actually have a fried eggplant aroma.  The balanced horseradish, lemon and basil sauce turned out to be a nice accompaniment fried green tomatoes.

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