Monday, June 16, 2008

Fried Green Salmonella-Free Tomatoes (Cooking With Amy)

Not long after we married, my dear husband grilled two lonely hamburgers on our tiny charcoal grill. I ate mine in the dark bedroom, which was illuminated only by the glow of a 13-inch TV. If I had to guess, I was probably watching "Designing Women." Midway through my burger, I thought, "This burger tastes mushy." I turned on the overhead light only to find that not only was this burger RARE, but uncomfortably close to RAW.
About four hours later, after midnight, I woke up to symptoms you would not believe. To complicate matters, I had recently learned I was pregnant and therefore could not be drugged out of my mind. My doctor led us down the unfortunate route of suppositories, which almost ended our young marriage right then and there. I was going to end up a single mom who had to tell her child, "If your father had only cooked the hamburger, we wouldn't be in this mess."
While I was never officially diagnosed with salmonella, I imagine the symptoms would be a lot like The Hamburger Incident of 1991.
So today's cooking tip is this: Don't eat foods that may be tainted with salmonella. Unless you need to lose a few pounds and don't mind a few embarrassing physical unpleasantries. Unless you have a generous sick leave policy at your place of employment. Unless you're not pregnant and don't plan to become pregnant. Because ladies, let me tell you, your chances of becoming pregnant will diminish greatly if your better half has to witness your salmonella-like symptoms.
One way to avoid salmonella-ridden tomatoes is to grow your own, and keep close watch over your garden. On Saturday, I harvested four huge green tomatoes from my garden (because I'm impatient that way—tomatoes seldom make it to red around here) and transformed them into a delicious addition to our family's dinner table.
Just as everyone in the South claims to make the best potato salad, so it goes with fried green tomatoes. I just happen to be right. Follow these directions, and you can brag, too.

Fried Green Salmonella-Free Tomatoes

green, salmonella-free tomatoes (as many as you're willing to slice and fry)
cooking oil
bread crumbs
corn meal (or flour; but I prefer corn meal, or the result will be gummy--not a good texture)
milk (about 3/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

Fill a frying pan with about a half-inch of cooking oil. As the oil heats, soak your WASHED salmonella-free tomato slices in a large bowl of milk. Combine equal measures of bread crumbs and corn meal (or flour) in a large bowl. Maybe 1 1/2 cups combined? I don't know. I don't measure. Stir. Dredge the slices through the meal mixture, then back to the milk, then back to the meal mixture. When the oil is hot, fry away. Cooking time depends on how you like them—soggy or crispy. I like to cook them all the way through. Like I would have preferred that hamburger that almost killed me 17 years ago.