Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Panko Fried Green Movie Food.

In 1991, the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" made its screen debut and became an instant hit.  My favorite line, to this day, is still when Kathy Bates' character purposely smashes her vehicle into a car full of rude young women,  "Face it girls, I'm older and have more insurance."  While the ending of the movie may make you think twice about your favorite barbecue joint; a dish called "fried green tomatoes" became all the rage.

The Autumn Equinox has come which is the second harvest; surprise, surprise that I found some medium sized green tomatoes in my garden.  I picked the firm jewels with the intention of finally making fried green tomatoes.  Finally?  Yes, I admit that I have never had them before; two reasons really; first being I don't follow fads and the movie made the recipe into a fad.  Secondly, well I just didn't want to try them; I'm not a fan of eating sliced red tomatoes, so green ones didn't sound tempting at all.  Yes!  I admit it, I was wrong!!!

Before picking the tomatoes, I had already defrosted some chicken tenderloins to fry up; so here was my chance to fry two birds with one skillet.  Alright, bad attempt at making a pun joke.  Anyway, I made 1/4 inch slices of the tomatoes, sprinkling salt and pepper on both sides. The chicken was already in a plastic container which I added a beaten egg and half an 8 ounce package of panko bread crumbs to. I liberally coated each strip and set aside to rest. In a small bowl of beaten egg, I coated the tomato slices and pressed panko onto both sides of each slice. Panko, in case you didn't know, is Japanese bread crumbs, coarsely ground making them look more like flakes than crumbs. The large surface area absorbs seasoning well, but not oil, so they have a light, airy and very crispy texture after frying.

Into my Wok, I added an inch of peanut oil, but canola oil is good to use if you cannot find peanut oil. Once it began to sizzle, I began adding the tomato slices, four at a time; they will fry up more quickly if using a Wok, so keep an eye on the browning. I used my wire straining spoon to remove them to paper towels for drainage. The taste was, well you get hit with the bitter, but than a sweetness mildly creeps in before the bitter comes back. I tried different condiments; ranch dressing added a sour taste; green goddess dressing didn't add a thing; but a couple drops of Cholula hot sauce added a nice zing to the tomatoes. Overall, I liked them plain while they were hot; once they began to cool down, not so much.

I then began frying up the chicken tenderloins three at a time. Frying in the Wok allowed for faster cooking, so after 1 1/2 minutes, I turned the chicken, cooked an additional 1 1/2 minutes and then removed to paper towels for drainage. Oh my, oh my; these were the best chicken strips I had ever fried up; tender and so juicy that the liquid actually ran down my chin. The panko coating was so light and crispy; just too, too delicious for words.

Three chicken tenderloins and 4 fried green tomato slices were my dinner. I had died and gone to culinary heaven after pampering myself with this meal. All I can say is, "TRY IT!!!".

Mary Cokenour