Chef Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes from Smoke't Chef Michael Altman

Before you start getting all uppity, yes, we are well aware there's nothing Irish about fried green tomatoes. However since so many of us will be searching our closets for green to wear for St. Patty's Day and, heck, you'll need something in your bellies besides bangers and mash to sponge up all that Guinness, why not try something delish that at least matches the weekend's official pre-party color scheme? 

Chef Michael Altman at Smoke't claims his version is the best around, because of the way he batters them, using semolina flour and special seasonings. (It also doesn't hurt that he really smokes the goat cheese for the dipping sauce on site, but the Liquid Smoke substitution he suggested below should work pretty well.)

His favorite beer to go with this recipe, by the way, is Labatt Blue. "For some reason, it works," he explained with a shrug. But perhaps this weekend a pint of something more, uh, Irish will do. 

Fried Green Tomatoes with Smoked Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce
Serves 2

1 green tomato (often found at Whole Foods), divided into less than ¼-inch thick slices
2 cups semolina flour, finely ground
2 cups all-purpose flour
onion powder to taste
garlic powder to taste
2 eggs, beaten
canola and vegetable oil, blended in equal parts
Goat cheese

Dipping sauce
½ lb goat cheese
2 cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp fresh garlic, chopped

Dredge tomato slices in all-purpose flour seasoned with garlic powder and onion powder, then egg, then semolina, then back into the egg, then back into all-purpose flour. Put it in a hot pan over medium heat and make sure ¾ of tomato is covered in oil. [Toque's Tip: "Make sure the oil's not too hot; you'll burn the crust before the tomato can cook. The tomato will be raw on the inside."] Let tomato sizzle until golden brown (approximately 3 minutes). Flip and cook until golden brown on other side. Dry on a paper towel. 

Dipping sauce: Slowly puree cheese, sour cream, and mayo in Cuisinart, then add Liquid Smoke, paprika, cayenne, parsley, lemon juice, and garlic.

Place ½ oz of goat cheese on each slice and broil for about 30 seconds until cheese melts. 

Presentation: Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar on the plate, or add dipping sauce.

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Riki Altman