It is no secret that Southerners love green tomatoes. We fry them, pickle them, stew them, bake them in pies, and even write books about them. Readily available at the beginning and ending of each summer season, this under-ripe fruit has a firm flesh and an acidic, sour taste—which allows them to be used in an array of dishes.
The chefs at Blackberry Farm suggest selecting medium-size green tomatoes, since larger ones can have woody, inedible cores and clumps of bitter seeds.
From The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm, page 109:
“Here is our classic twist on a classic Southern favorite, red tomato layered pie. We borrow the flavor and textures of the traditional accompaniments to fried catfish- tart lemon, creamy tartar sauce, and fried hush puppies- and present them in an untraditional way: Green tomato stands for lemon to provide the acid, buttermilk mayonnaise and cheese provide the creamy richness of the tartar sauce, and the flaky crust that holds it all together stands in for the hush puppies.
The lard and the buttermilk contribute flakiness and great flavor to this pie crust, but the real secret to its tenderness is the rolling method. Folding the dough onto itself and rolling it out several times forms thin layers within the dough. When the fat melts in the heat of the oven, the evaporation of moisture contained in the tiny space between the layers forces each layer to rise, just like in puff pastry.”
GREEN TOMATO PIE WITH BUTTERMILK CRUST
For the Buttermilk Crust
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
¼ cup buttermilk, chilled
4 tablespoons ice water, or as needed
For the Buttermilk Mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
2 medium-size green tomatoes, cored and cut crosswise into 1/8- to 1/4- inch-thick rounds
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 medium-size sweet onions, halved lengthwise and cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Singing Brook, Ossau-Iraty, or Pecorino Toscano cheese (about 3 ounces)
To prepare the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter and lard and toss to coat. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, work in the butter and lard until it resembles a mixture of coarse and small peas. Drizzle the buttermilk over the flour mixture and mix with a fork. Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix in with a fork just until large clumps of dough form.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a disk. Using a lightly floured pin, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Pick up the right edge, fold the dough in half, and roll it into a 1/2-inch thickness. Pick up the bottom edge, fold the dough in half, and roll it to a 1/2-inch thickness. Pick up the left edge, fold the dough in half, and roll it to a 1/2-inch thickness. Pick up the top edge, fold the dough in half, and roll it to a 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll the dough into a 12-inch round that is about 1/8 inch thick. Slide it into a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit the dough into the plate. Trim the edges evenly to about 1/2 inch. Turn under the excess dough and crimp the edge. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight. The longer it chills the better it will bake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the pie shell with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the edges and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake until the sides of the crust begin to firm up and the edge of the crust begins to color, about 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and return the crust to the oven until the edges are browned and the inside is lightly browned and dry to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack until the crust cools to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the buttermilk mayonnaise. Place the egg and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and process for about 10 seconds to combine. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, then add the buttermilk in a steady stream. Season with salt. You should have about 1 1/2 cups.
Transfer to a tightly covered container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 10 days before serving.
To finish the pie, sprinkle both sides of the tomato slices with 1 teaspoon of the salt and arrange them in a single layer on a wire rack placed over the sink or a kitchen towel to catch the drips. Place the onions in a colander and toss them with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place the colander on a plate to catch the drops. Let both sit for one hour and then pat dry the tomato slices and the onions.
If necessary, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and 1 cup of the cheese.
Spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise mixture across the bottom of the pie shell. Fill the shell with alternating layers of tomatoes and onions, drizzling about two tablespoons of the mayonnaise mixture between each layer. End with a layer of onions.
Spread the remaining mayonnaise mixture over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top.
Bake until the cheese melts, 15 to 18 minutes. If desired, set the pie under the broiler to brown the top before serving. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature, but serve within 30 minutes.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Blackberry Farm.