Tomato Milanese
Tomato Milanese. (Chef Aaron Egan)

Enjoy the fruits of your garden!

I grow a variety of tomato in my garden called a “Pineapple tomato.” They’re naturally large, and my habits around fertilizing and plant location make for even bigger tomatoes when they finally ripen toward the end of August. (The plants, though, are still yielding new fruits as I write this in October.) They’re a delightful true heirloom varietal, sweet and juicy; splitting easily if not cared for properly (and even when cared for!) and leaning heavily as the tomatoes grow large on their not-all-that-hardy stems.

Chef Aaron Egan
Chef Aaron Egan

This sort of tomato, in culinary terms, is often called a “slicer” tomato, noted for the solid internal structure (more tomato flesh, less open seed area) and large size making for nice slices on sandwiches, burgers, etc.

I particularly like to fry these slices up, breaded, and serve them with a garlic aioli or a good savory sauce (tomato or otherwise) that will complement the sweetness of the tomato.  

Tomato Milanese

Yield: as many tomatoes as you want to eat

Ingredients

  • Large, steaky tomatoes (like Pineapple tomatoes), ripe or green
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Eggs
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil

Directions

Slice the tomatoes about ¼ – ½ inch thick. Cut along the latitude lines, not the longitudes; if you need to split a particularly large tomato in half from stem to bud, you can do that, but they’re good to work with large as well. Dice the very bottom of the tomato for salad and core out the top few slices to get rid of any tough green or white parts.

Lay the tomato slices on a rack above a sheet pan with sides. Season them heavily with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Flip the slices over and coat the other side similarly. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes, or up to an hour in the fridge.

Pour breadcrumbs in an even layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Toast in a 200°F oven, stirring frequently and watching carefully, until they’re just starting to crisp up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before moving them into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and some dried herbs if you like. 

Prepare a breading station: Pour a cup or two of flour onto a plate or shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Beat together a couple eggs (for one or two larger tomatoes) and place the beaten eggs in a shallow dish. Place a cup or two of the toasted and seasoned breadcrumbs into a shallow dish and arrange them in order flour-egg-breadcrumbs.

Perform the following sequence: Coat the tomato slices thoroughly in the flour, shake off as much excess as you can, then dip them into the egg. Remove them from the egg, allow excess to drip off, and make sure it’s coated completely. Dip back into the flour to double-coat them, shake off excess, then back into the egg. Remove from the egg and allow excess to drip off. Once again, ensure that there’s egg all over the tomato slice, then (finally!) place it into the breadcrumbs.

Coat the tomato completely in breadcrumbs, then place it carefully onto a dry rack and allow to set for a few minutes before storing up to overnight in a sealed container. Two nights might be pushing it.

Prepare a landing zone for your tomatoes by placing a rack over a sheet pan. Heat a frying pan large enough to hold your largest tomato slice over medium-high heat and pour in your cooking oil to create about ⅛ inch of oil in the pan. When the oil is shimmering on the surface, gently slip a tomato slice into the pan. Shake the pan back and forth gently as the bubbles begin to rise from the breadcrumb bottom to keep it from sticking, and when it’s turned a nice golden brown around the edges, carefully flip it over with a spatula. Fry until the other side is browned, and if need be, flip once or twice to finish browning evenly.

Immediately remove cooked tomatoes from the pan and place them on the cooling rack for a moment or two. Immediately season the tomatoes on both sides with a little bit of kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Serve promptly with aioli, tomato sauce, a salad of endives with vinaigrette, or even ranch dressing if you’re feeling that sort of mood. Enjoy the fruits of your garden! 

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