There is no excuse for Southern cuisine to be so heavy on the deep-fried or processed (pimento cheese ball, anyone?). With such rich soil and a growing season that won’t quit, local farmers markets are bursting with plump tomatoes, crisp green okra (or purple), tender peaches and heavy watermelons. We finally traveled to the state-run farmers market, down in the Triad. It was like a state fair farmers market – four big buildings bustling with vendors. I’ve seen nothing like it in the Northwest (it puts Seattle to shame).
Needless to say, we went a little tomato-crazy. I’ve never seen so many tomatoes in my life! The heirloom variety, from deep purple to striped yellow to rainbow, cost only $1 per pound at the Winston-Salem farmers market (our first stop). And green tomatoes – those that I never, ever find in the NW – were five for $1. We didn’t resist.
I did, however, resist the temptation to buy some beautiful potted plants at the Triad farmers market. The gardenias smelled like heaven and the fig trees would have looked perfect on my patio – and they even had tiny figs growing on them! $15 for a fig tree? That’s like a grocery expense! But alas…
We now have this fruit bowl to work with while we look for more tomato recipes (Jesse already made his salsa)…
I did buy the remaining ingredients for tonight’s dinner: chili-rubbed pork tenderloin with mango relish. It’s from – you guessed it – Cook’s Illustrated “Cooking for Two.” I love the idea of rubbing the inexpensive pork tenderloin with chili powder and natural cocoa powder, searing it and then roasting it in the oven. The sear/roast method is my favorite way to cook pork. The recipe turned out a pretty perfect tenderloin, and the mango relish was spicy and the perfect accompaniment to the pork (pork loves sweet things).
Jesse said this is the best pork dish he’s had in a long time. I’ll post the recipe and then get on to the fried green tomatoes…
1 pork tenderloin, about 12 oz.
2 tps. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 mango, peeled, pitted and chopped into small chunks
2 T chopped cilantro
1 T lime juice
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. minced jalapeno, seeded, about 1/2 a jalapeno
Preheat oven to 425. Pat pork dry. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cocoa and 1/4 tsp. salt, then rub it all over the pork.
Heat oil in ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Brown tenderloin on all sides, reducing heat if the spices start to burn. This will take about 6 min. total and the pork will look almost black. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the internal temp. is 140 degrees, about 15 min.
Once done, tent the pork with foil for another 10 min and it will be perfect.
Meanwhile, make the relish: combine the mango, cilantro, lime, shallot, jalapeno and 1/8 tsp. salt in a bowl. Once you’ve sliced the pork, spoon over the relish. The juices will mingle with the pork for a wonderfully complex flavor. The pork will be so tender, you can cut it with your fork!
Now, for the reason you’re all here: fried green tomatoes. I used the recipe form Simply Recipes.
All you do is slice the tomatoes thick (but not too thick, or they won’t be softened enough when you cook them – no more than 1/2 an inch). Season them with S&P and let them sit 15 min. Then, heat 1/4 c. EVOO in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Get 4 bowls ready: 1/2 c. milk, 1 c. flour, 2 eggs lightly beaten, 1 c. bread crumbs (or corn meal). Dip each slice sequentially: milk, flour, egg, and finally crumbs. Then, put them in the oil and brown on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When all are done, sprinkle them with a little more salt, to taste.
Now, I was going to make a chipotle aioli to go with these, because that’s how I’ve seen it in the restaurants. But it really didn’t need it. The tomatoes were juicy enough on their own, and who needs the extra fat? These were really delicious, even if I did slice mine a little too thick. What a wonderful Southern invention. Perhaps serve yours with some hot sauce on the side.