- 4 large tomatoes, ripe (suggest one Black Russian, one Green Zebra, one Lemon Boy, and 1 red Better Boy; if available)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Fried Green Tomatoes:
- 4 large green tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup bacon fat
- 1/4 pound Kentucky Tomme (This cheese is a firm, highly flavored goat cheese from Judy Shad's Capriole Farm in southern Indiana. Can substitute with Swiss gruyere.)
- Micro-Greens, for garnish
juice them. Dice the tomato flesh. Add chives, salt, and white pepper.
Fried Green Tomatoes:
Tomatoes that are showing a little pink coloration amid the green, as they just begin to turn red, are thought to have the best flavor. Slice them, skin on, so that you have 3 (1/4-inch) slices from each. Sprinkle the slices with a mixture of kosher salt, sugar, and black pepper.
For the coating, mix together the best stone-ground white cornmeal you can find (Weisenberger Mills cornmeal is excellent), and flour. Dip the seasoned tomato slices in the cornmeal mixture.
Film a heavy skillet (in Kentucky, a black cast iron skillet is favored) with a generous amount of bacon fat. (Have more bacon fat ready to add to the skillet if the tomatoes absorb too much. If you've dietary qualms about this, use half bacon fat and half canola oil. For the saute, any kind of fat or oil will do, but the bacon clearly gives the best and most authentic taste.) Heat the oil until fairly hot, but not quite smoking. Fry the
coated tomatoes approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side, being sure not to crowd the skillet. Drain the slices on paper towels, and keep warm in a very low oven.
Slice cheese into very thin slices.
Make sure the fried green tomatoes are still very warm (you may want to slightly increase the oven temperature at the last minute to make sure). On each of 4 warmed plates, spoon out a thin layer of the tomato concasse in a circle that will extend beyond the tomato stack. Place a tomato slice on each plate, and cover (overlapping just a bit) with the thin cheese slices; place another tomato slice on each, and repeat the cheese placement; top each with the remaining slices. Do this as quickly as you can so that the cheese melts just slightly (you may place the plates briefly back in the oven to do this, but guard against the tomato crusts becoming soggy).
When ready to serve, top each stack with micro-greens (we like baby arugula for this extra taste treat), and garnish the plates with nasturtium flowers, adding the piquant taste of watercress to the dish. (If you don't have nasturtium flowers, you might dot the plate with droplets of reduced balsamic vinegar.) Serve at once.