Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bacon, Fried Green Tomato and Pimento Cheese Sammy

During my first year of grad school, our go-to bar was this great place, Tyler's Taproom. It has pool, a few televisions, foosball, and best of all, A LOT of beer choices. There is a wall (actually two) that is full of taps as well as lots of assorted bottles. They have lots of seasonal and unique flavor profiles. Unfortunately, the food at Tyler's was only okay; they had a few good burgers, but it really wasn't even that good. After awhile, we stopped frequenting Tyler's and would only go for birthday or defense celebrations. Imagine my surprise when in my last year of grad school, I discovered that they had revamped their menu significantly. They added a number of new and interesting sandwiches and entrees. One of them representing the south in every bite- a pimento cheese and fried green tomato BLT. This weekend I set out to curb my craving for this sandwich (unfortunately I couldn't make the trip to Durham), by recreating it in my kitchen. 

In my opinion, a great sandwich should be gooey, messy and above all, delicious. This will not disappoint. Let me introduce you to the players for our sandwich today:

The bread is the vehicle for all the goodness. This seeded sourdough bread I got from a local bakery was perfect as the base. Next, you need crispy bacon- none of that flimsy, greasy stuff (what do you think this is? an all-night diner?). And, of course, the stars of the show, the pimento cheese and the fried green tomatoes. 

I'm going to assume you know how to pick up some bread from the store (or make it yourself) and microwave/bake yourself some super crunchy bacon. I'll focus here on the recipes for the pimento cheese and the FGT. 

I lightened the pimento cheese by subbing Greek yogurt for some of the mayo. It is so yummy that I won't judge you if you eat it on top of some celery or mini bell peppers (side note: I'm obsessed with those mini bell peppers right now. Perfect for salads or perfectly snackable!).

The FGT are really baked green tomatoes, but that just sounds silly. The green tomatoes are sour and complement the cheese and bacon perfectly. The crust was crunchy and not too heavy. I ate one by itself and I think I would have preferred to dunk it in some ranch. I think these work great for a sammy but I'm not sure I would recommend eating them without additional flavoring. You could certainly step up the breading with some chili powder or cumin or even some shredded parm if you wanted to play around with FGT in order to eat them plain.

On to the good stuff. Doesn't that just look AMAZING?!?! 

If you're going all out Tyler's style, serve them alongside some good and garlicky french fries as I did. And don't plan on kissing anyone right after dinner. ;)

Pimento Cheese (adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine July 2012)
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp diced onion
1 1/2 tbsp light mayo
1 1/2 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp chopped pimentos
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp paprika

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined completely. Chill until ready to serve.

Baked "Fried" Green Tomatoes (adapted from A Veggie Adventure)
1/8 cup wheat flour
1/8 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large green tomato, core removed and cut into 1/3 slices

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a baking sheet in the oven as it is heating to get it hot.

Stir together the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, sugar and paprika in a shallow bowl. Add the buttermilk to a different shallow bowl.

Remove the baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Working quickly, dip each tomato slice into the buttermilk and then into the breading, shaking off excess. Arrange on baking sheet.

Bake for 30 min, flipping once at the halfway point.

Bacon, FGT, and Pimento Grilled Cheese (Inspired by Tyler's Taproom)
1/3 cup pimento cheese (see above)
2 slices FGT (see above)
2 slices of good quality sourdough (or other bread of choice)
3 slices of crispy cooked bacon
~1/2 tbsp butter or margarine

Heat a frying pan on medium heat.

Spread approximately 1/4 tbsp of butter on one side of each piece of bread. On the opposite side of one piece of bread, spread the pimento cheese. Stack on the FGT and then the bacon. Top with the other piece of bread, butter side out.

Add the sandwich to the heated pan, butter side down (put the slice with the pimento cheese on it as the bottom piece), cover sandwich with a lid, and cook until browned, approximately 2 min. Carefully flip over and cook the other side until browned, approximately 2 min.

Remove from the heat and consume! :)

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