Midday Fix: Big Jones chef Paul Fehribach makes fried green tomatoes

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Big Jones
5347 N. Clark Street

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 large green tomatoes, cored and sliced 3/8-inch thick
2 cups buttermilk
2 Tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 cup fine grind white cornmeal
1 cup corn starch
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
cooking oil or lard for frying

Slice the green tomatoes and place in a two-quart mixing bowl. Cover with the buttermilk, add the hot sauce, and refrigerate for two hours. Mix the cornmeal, starch, salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. In a cast-iron pan with at least 3-inch sides, heat 1 inch of cooking oil to 350 degrees with a clip-on thermometer. Piece by piece, press the tomato slices in the dredge, careful to make sure the slices are well coated before gently laying into the hot oil. Fry 2-3 minutes on the first side and 1-2 minutes on the second side. You’re looking for the color to just begin to turn golden; if it’s too dark the tomatoes will be mushy. Place cooked tomatoes on a stoneware plate covered with a clean dry towel to drain, and hold in a low oven until ready to serve. Serve with rémoulade and pickled shrimp.

Pickled Shrimp
Makes about one quart

Stage one, prepare the marinade:

1 1/4 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
4 whole cloves
4 whole allspice berries
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar

In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar and water to a boil with the mustard seed, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, salt and sugar. Cover tightly and remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature while steeping, about two hours. In the meantime, prepare the shrimp.

Stage two, cooking and pickling:

1 gallon cold water
1/4 cup kosher salt
6 bay leaves
2 medium yellow onions, peeled (one coarsely chopped and the other finely julienned)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 pounds raw shrimp, 50-70 count, peeled and deveined
zest of two lemons, removed with a vegetable peeler and finely julienned
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

In a large stock pot, bring the water to a boil with the salt, 3 of the bay leaves, the coarsely chopped onion and red pepper. Allow to infuse for 10 minutes at a low boil. Add the shrimp, stir well, remove from the heat and cover for one minute. Remove the cover and stir again. The shrimp should be gently cooked, pink, and a rich opaque white color (or pink depending on your shrimp.) Strain into a colander at once and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Rinse the julienned onion briefly under cold running water to remove the smelly sulfur aromas. Then toss in a mixing bowl with the cooked shrimp, remaining 3 bay leaves, lemon zest and ginger. Pack the mixture into a 1-quart non-reactive storage container or jar with a fitting lid, cover with the marinade, cap tightly, and refrigerate for at least two days before using or up to two weeks. Serve with fried green tomatoes, charcuterie, or use in a potato salad for a special treat.

Makes about 2 cups; enough for 6-8 people

1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Creole mustard
2 Tablespoons Cajun seasoning
2 Tablespoons Crystal hot sauce
2 stalks green onion, washed and sliced very thin
1/4 cup chopped cucumber pickles
1 Tablespoon grated fresh horseradish
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until evenly combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour before serving, or up to one week.
Chef’s Tips:

When purchasing green tomatoes, you want to look for firm tomatoes that are all green or with just a little pink blush. Fully ripe tomatoes don’t work particularly well with this dish.

Fry on the first side about 2 to 3 minutes, and 1 to 2 minutes on the second side.

The tomatoes are done when they begin to turn golden. If you overcook them, the tomatoes will be mushy.

After removing from the skillet, I like to set them on a plate covered with a dry towel to drain.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. My favorite accompaniments with fried green tomatoes are rémoulade and pickled shrimp.

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