Recipes for Tuesday’s WGN Lunchbreak

Fried Green Tomatoes halved

Catch me Tuesday, June 18 on WGN News at Noon’s Lunchbreak, in which I will demonstrate how to cook fried green tomatoes as good as the ones we serve at Big Jones, at home. For those of you around the country, it is a nationally syndicated news program, so look it up, I might be on your TV!

I’ll be demonstrating the basics of our recipe, but I’ve included here two of my favorite accompaniments, remoulade and pickled shrimp. There’s also our recipe for homemade mayonnaise, something you might like to try if you have the time, although you should feel free to use your favorite store-bought mayonnaise.

Most tomato growers at farmer’s markets will pick green tomatoes for you if you ask, though many of them regularly bring a few to offer anyway. They can be difficult to come across in supermarkets, at least outside the south, but larger produce markets will often stock them this time of year. Surprisingly, this recipe also works with ripe tomatoes, you’ll just want to fry them a little hotter to get the crust a little darker and crispier.


Fried green tomatoes

  • 4 Large Green Tomatoes, cored and sliced 3/8 inch thick
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 cup fine grind white cornmeal
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cooking oil or lard, for frying

Slice the green tomatoes and place in a two-quart mixing bowl. Cover with the buttermilk, add the hot sauce, and refrigerate for two hours. Mix the cornmeal, starch, salt, and pepper and taste for seasoning. In a cast iron pan with at least 3″ sides, heat 1″ of cooking oil to 350 degrees with a clip-on thermometer. Piece by piece, press the tomato slices in the dredge, careful to make sure the slices are well coated before gently laying into the hot oil. Fry 2-3 minutes on the first side and 1-2 minutes on the second side. You’re looking for the color to just begin to turn golden; if it’s too dark the tomatoes will be mushy. Place cooked tomatoes on a stoneware plate covered with a clean dry towel to drain, and hold in a low oven until ready to serve. Serve with remoulade and pickled shrimp.


Pickled Shrimp

Makes about one quart

Stage one, prepare the marinade:

  •  1 ¼ cups white vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar and water to a boil with the mustard seed, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, salt, and sugar. Cover tightly, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature while steeping, about two hours. In the meantime, prepare the shrimp.

Stage two, cooking and pickling:

  • 1 gallon cold water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, one coarsely chopped, the other, finely julienned
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 pounds raw shrimp, 50-70 ct, peeled and deveined
  • Zest of two lemons, removed with a vegetable peeler and finely julienned
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

In a large stock pot, bring the water to a boil with the salt, 3 of the bay leaves, the coarsely chopped, onion, and red pepper and allow to infuse for ten minutes at a low boil. Add the shrimp, stir well, remove from the heat and cover for one minute. Remove the cover and stir again. The shrimp should be gently cooked, pink, and a rich opaque white color (or pink depending on your shrimp.) Strain into a colander at once and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Rinse the julienned onion briefly under cold running water to remove the smelly sulfur aromas, then toss in a mixing bowl, with the cooked shrimp, the remaining 3 bay leaves, lemon zest, and ginger, then pack into a one quart non-reactive storage container or jar with fitting lid, cover with the marinade, cap tightly, and refrigerate for at least two days before using or up to two weeks. Serve with fried green tomatoes, charcuterie, or use in potato salad for a special treat.



Makes about two cups, enough for 6-8 people or a small party

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Crystal hot sauce
  • 2 stalks green onion, washed and sliced very thin
  • ¼ cup chopped cucumber pickles
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh horseradish (store-bought in a jar will do in a pinch, but use twice as much)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until evenly combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour before serving, or up to one week.


Basic Mayonnaise

Makes about two cups

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 – ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 – ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Place the egg yolks and dry ingredients in a 4 quart non-reactive mixing bowl mixing bowl and whisk until creamy. While whisking, add the vinegar a few drops at a time and continue beating until the eggs begin to froth slightly. Continuing to whisk vigorously, add the vegetable oil very slowly, a teaspoon at a time at first, making sure to fully incorporate each addition before the next addition. After each addition, you will begin to notice the emulsion becomes a little bit thicker. After ten additions by the teaspoon, increase each addition to tablespoons, careful that with each addition and further whisking the emulsion becomes thicker. By the end of the vegetable oil, the mayonnaise should be very thick and stand up in dollops when spooned up. Whisk in olive oil. Correct for seasoning if you like more salt, vinegar, or cayenne pepper. Refrigerate at once for up to one week.