fried green tomatoes with basil cream
PREP TIME 15–20 mins, plus soaking and resting, COOK TIME 15 mins
8 green tomatoes
3⁄4 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika or ancho chile powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup cornmeal or fine polenta
1⁄3 cup panko or day-old breadcrumbs
1⁄4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp finely chopped basil
4 cups peanut or sunflower oil, for frying
¾ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
finely grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
1 Slice the tops and bottoms off the tomatoes and, depending on the size of the tomatoes, cut them into 2 or 3 equal slices, about 1⁄4in (5mm) thick. Lay them in a single layer in a large, shallow dish. Whisk the buttermilk with the smoked paprika and season well. Pour the buttermilk over the tomatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before cooking.
2 Place the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Mix in 1 tbsp of the chopped basil and season well.
3 When the tomatoes have soaked, drain them well. Toss them in the cornmeal crust, making sure that they are evenly coated on all sides, then leave them to rest for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack to allow the coating to set a little—this will help it to stick during frying.
4 Pour the oil into a large, heavy-based frying pan to a depth of at least 1⁄2in (1cm). When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook them for 2–3 minutes, turning them once, until they are golden brown on both sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon and let them rest on a wire rack.
5 To make the basil cream, whisk together the crème fraîche, the remaining basil and lemon zest, and season well.