Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cohabitating: Fried Green Tomatoes with Field Peas


There are many pleasures associated with living in the city, including easy access to world class restaurants, our choice of farmers' markets, and the proximity to downtown locales.

There are also some small disadvantages, the smaller the worse. I know that country folk have to contend with an assortment of varmints. Us? Crazy squirrels and, shudder, rats. It's been a particularly active year for latter the species. In our set of attached rowhouses, we and our neighbors have seen more than our fair share of the Rattus norvegicus, both dead and alive. I know the genus name only from Pixar's Our Friend the Rat, a short film associated with Ratatouille. It seems appropriate that the featured dish in said movie highlights tomatoes, since our enemy, the rat, pilfered our last beautiful red ripe heirloom tomato. Boo hoo.

I'm tired of battling the creatures for the fruits of our vine. I also realize that I'm probably being optimistic to believe that any more will turn red given the drop in temperatures. So sadly, I stripped our plants of the hard green balls, realizing that summer is officially gone. The silver lining? I get to make Fried Green Tomatoes, an early autumn pleasure, that I indulge in only after the possibility of ripe fruit is gone. Partnering them with some stewed field peas, a newcomer to our markets, we had a delicious almost vegetarian supper, in spite of the rats.

Field Peas with Tasso and Fried Green Tomatoes

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 ounces tasso ham sliced
10 ounces fresh field peas (you could substitute soaked black eyed peas)
¼ cup chicken stock
1 ¾ cup water
1 small tomato, chopped
2 to 3 small green tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup buttermilk
dash tabasco
salt to taste
vegetable oil for frying

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ham and cook for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Pour in water and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and tomato and cook until the peas are tender 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a heavy medium skillet to 325 F. Whisk the tabasco into the buttermilk and the salt into the cornmeal. Dredge the tomato slices first in flour, then dip in buttermilk, and then into the cornmeal. Fry the slices until golden and serve on top of the field peas.

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