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Let's make a sandwich fancy enough to be dinner, but chill enough to go with store-bought potato chips and living-room dining, shall we?
We are making fried green tomatoes, which are possibly one of the most delightful things that will come out of your fryer this summer. They have the perfect balance of acidy to salt, fresh to crispy. There are a lot of bad fried green tomatoes in the world, but we can revive their wonder one slice at time. Now, let's fry.
First things first (one day I'll be able to say that without thinking of Iggy), your kitchen music. If you have not yet discovered the nostalgic brilliance of the Disney Hits Spotify station, get on that.
Also, please slice your tomatoes thiiiiiick. We will not stand for any soggy tomatoes around here.
Panko is the only way to go. Quite frankly, I am not sure why anyone would consider any other form of breading. That crunch - gotta get it.
Lastly, get that oil HOT! We are shooting for 350 degrees F. While I have seen some adopt the panfrying technique, I just feel that it lends to an oil-saturated tomato and a somewhat soggy outer crust. Ideally, they should only fry for about a minute, if you go much longer the tomato will lose its lovely freshness.
Now, if you can bear to save a few of these oh-so-snackble tomatoes, they make a pretty fine addition to a sandwich.
Homemade pimento cheese, roughly chopped bacon, and a gorgeously crisp slice of summer, smashed between your favorite bread and grilled until golden brown.
If you are feeling an extra smear of mayonnaise, that is definitely acceptable.
Grab your chips, ruffled or crisp, and I would not be mad if you wanted to pull out some dill pickles and go full deli style.
Can we call this the ultimate summer sandwich?
Yes, I think we can.
Fried Green Tomato, Bacon & Pimento Cheese Grilled Sandwich
Cook's Note: This recipe will make far more pimento cheese than you need, but it will last up to a week in the refrigerator and it makes a great spread for crackers or crostini. Be sure to make this component first.
for the pimento cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces monterey jack, freshly grated
10 ounces sharp cheddar, freshly grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon worcestershire
1 4-ounce jar pimentos, drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
crostini or crackers for serving
Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl, and use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed until fluffy; about 1 minute. Mix in grated cheeses, mayonnaise, worcestershire, pimentos, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and pepper. Beat on low speed until all ingredients are well combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use; up to one week.
for the fried green tomatoes
1 large green tomato*
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
fine sea salt
4-6 cups vegetable oil
Cook's Note: While there is no sense in looking for a "ripe" unripe tomato, aim for tightly skinned, firm specimens with an even green color - no yellow.
Prepare two baking sheets, layering one with paper towels and topping with a cooling rack and lining the second with parchment. Select three small bowls. In the first bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. In the second bowl, whisk to combine eggs and milk. Combine the panko, garlic powder, and onion powder in the third bowl. Fill a deep-fryer or cast iron skillet with about 2-inches of oil and begin heating.
Use a sharp knife to slice the tomato into 1/4-inch slices. Dip each slice into the prepared flour mixture, then coat with the egg mixture, finally dipping each side into the seasoned panko. Lay the finished slices out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet until all the tomatoes have been prepped.
Once your oil has reached 350 degrees F, fry the tomatoes. Work in batches of one or two at a time, frying for 30-seconds on each side; until deep golden. Transfer the slices to the prepared cooling station and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Allow the tomatoes to cool slightly while you prepare the other components.
8 slices sandwich bread
4 tablespoons softened butter
8 slices cooked bacon, roughly crumbled
fried green tomatoes
Spread a thin layer of butter over one side of each slice of bread. Layer the bread with pimento cheese, bacon, and fried tomatoes and top with the second slice of bread.
Place each sandwich, butter-side down, into a nonstick frying pan set over medium heat. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side; until the bread is deep golden and the cheese is bubbling.
Serve immediately alongside chips and maybe a pickle or two. Enjoy!
I just put a handful of grapes on your sandwich... Don't be mad.
I made this sandwich about forty minutes before rushing out the door to a dress appointment. After making and photographing the sandwich, I was left with exactly enough time for 1.5 bites before I had to leave. It was not a happy parting, but I came home and finished it cold because it was just that good.
This sandwich...oh, this sandwich, it is really and truly wonderful. I want to eat it every day.
When my family first moved into the house that they have lived in for the past eleven years and counting, we had a grapevine. It was rather pathetic, truth be told, but it produced several pounds of nearly-black baubles each summer, until it finally gave up its efforts and shriveled away.
My siblings and I could not get enough of those deep, dusty grapes. We would squeeze each fruit between our dirty fingers and pop the soft insides out of their skins and into our mouths. The skins were too tough to be enjoyable, and they provided a wrapper of protection from the grime of summer days that lay upon our hands. With a mouthful of small, brown seeds, we would engage in a seed-spitting competition. You see, we were all very sophisticated.
The flavor of those sun-warmed grapes has never escaped my memory, and when I discovered Thomcord grapes last year, the nostalgia rushed through my mind, flooding my senses with sweet familiarity.
I love red grapes with cheese and charcuterie, but there is something about those gem-like, black Concords that captures my heart. Thomcord grapes are a cross between Concord and Thompson grapes, and they possess all the charm of Concords without the pesky seeds and tough skins.
Through some very tedious experimentation (read: eating and more eating), I found that they pair really, really well with brie.
It's okay, you can roll your eyes, I know I'm obsessed with brie - but this really is SO GOOD!
So let's run through this again. Homemade bread + caramelized onions + melty, creamy brie + sweet and crunchy grapes = happiness. That's math. You can't argue with math.
The best part about this sandwich is the contrast between the crispy, buttered bread, the rich brie, and then the sharpness of the still-cool, crunchy grapes.
Lunch is served.
Grape & Brie Grilled Cheese
makes 2 sandwiches
for the caramelized onions
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
In a small, nonstick frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and salt, and cook until the onions are translucent and have begun to brown on the edges. About 5-8 minutes.
Add balsamic vinegar and cook until the onions are deep in color and caramelized. Just before removing the onions from heat, add the honey.
for the sandwiches
- 4 thick slices multigrain bread
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup Thomcord grapes
- 6-8 ounces double cream brie
Place a medium, nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
Spread a layer of butter on one side of each slice of bread. Cover two slices of bread with caramelized onions and the remaining two slices with sliced brie. Press the grapes into the brie and place the sandwich halves together.
Cook the sandwiches in the skillet for about 4 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden. Serve immediately. Enjoy!