"Carolina Calamari"

Calamari-Style Cornmeal-Fried "Chitlins'"


I don't know how long I had this idea of doing a Carolina "country" version of fried calamari, but it di take me long enough — weeks — to finally find off-season yet still ripe green tomatoes (at Eataly) and southern food staple chitlin's (East Harlem).

Although I was quite willing to long-cook the chitterlings myself (with garlic, salt, vinegar, and fresh tarragon), I could only find them pre-cooked and frozen.

So I thawed them under running cold water, rinsed them completely, then reheated them slowly in a pot of salted water (with vinegar), patted them dry, dredged them in flour, then dipped them in egg, then coated them in seasoned cornmeal.

On another stovetop burner, a saucepan with puréed green tomatoes simmered with garlic, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and cracked pepper.

As the sauce finished, the cornmeal-coated chitterlings was deep-dropped in hot oil for just enough minutes to golden brown their coating, and served on a wide plate — practical for several hands to have access to — with the sauce for dipping.

I might be the last of a generation to enjoy the earthy, gamey flavor and aroma of chitlins', but I'm confident that the calamari-reminiscent chew and and mouthfeel can make a convert of just about anyone.