Beer-batter fried green tomatoes with sweet beet dipping sauce

Fair food for the fried-inclined

Originally appeared in the August 2, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

With tomorrow being opening day for the 2012 Indiana State Fair, I thought it apt to emulate the deep-fried traditions of the Main Street walkway.  Specifically, the venerable, fried green tomato.  Of course there are numerous types of batters for deep-frying—tempura, egg-white, cornmeal, and beer batters are the first to come to mind.  So what I’ve created for this week’s recipe is a sort of hybrid, intended to please as many palates (ideally uninjured after sampling your deep-fried products) as possible.

First, when deep-frying at home (and I’ll invoke my father’s indefatigable advice), you can never be too careful—unless you’re using a pint-sized electric deep fryer, place your fry-pot on the back burner of the stove; and second (to invoke the shrewd demands of my former chefs) it’s critical that you maintain quality control—prepare everything in an assembly line from beginning prep to plating.

And what’s that purple concoction in the background?  I’m, glad you asked.  No tricks here: sweet beet dipping sauce, which is mind-numbingly simple.  All you do is incorporate a desired amount of canned-beet juice to mayonnaise.  That’s it—a pretty conservative shortcut that pairs nicely with a deep-fried icon.

Beer-batter fried green tomatoes with sweet beet dipping sauce

Serve 3 – 4

  • 2 large green tomatoes
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 fluid ounces amber ale beer
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour (plus more for dredging)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus extra for finishing)
  • 3 tablespoons coarse cornmeal
  • As needed, mayonnaise
  • As needed, beet juice

1.  In a heavy-bottomed stockpot, add enough canola oil to reach hallway up sides of pot.  Using a candy thermometer, slowly heat oil to 375° F., and maintain at that temperature.

2.  Slice tomatoes into ¼-inch discs.  In a bowl, combine egg and beer; whisk until smooth.  In a separate, larger bowl, combine flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and cornmeal; whisk to combine.  Whisk the beer-egg mixture into the dry ingredients until batter is smooth.

3.  Place a small amount of all-purpose flour on a plate, and dredge each piece of tomato by lightly coating it with flour before immediately dipping the tomatoes into the batter (the flour will help the batter stick to the tomato).  In small batches, carefully place the battered tomatoes into the fry oil.  Gently flip the tomatoes after a minute or two, and fry until golden brown (this will take several minutes).  When crispy and golden, remove tomatoes, reserve on a small rack, and sprinkle with additional kosher salt.  For dipping sauce, combine desired amount of beet juice with mayonnaise.  Serve fried green tomatoes immediately.

 

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