Chef Walter Bundy, Lemaire – Richmond, VA and Fried Green Tomatoes with Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Salad
We also talked about ingredients in recipes. This is something that I have discussed many times. The ingredients that you use in a recipe matter. If It says “red tomato”, Chef Bundy is using an Heirloom tomato. You cannot expect the same taste or results from a hybrid tomato from your grocery store. The types of ingredients you use are critical to the flavors of the final dish.
In addition to supporting many local farmers and growers, Chef Bundy started Bundy Farms in the hotel’s parking lot. It is truly an urban garden. From here he can harvest his own herbs and other produce such as Heirloom tomatoes. He is particularly passionate about saving the seed strains that are significant to the history of Virginia.
When The Bunkycooks discussed the drastic changes we have made in our own food purchases over the last year, you could see this chef light up. He said there is a real satisfaction when you live a more wholesome life and understand where your food comes from. “There is an energy that goes into it. It’s your responsibility as a person cooking it and there’s a satisfaction that you get while cooking it.” We certainly have felt that way and it has changed our lives.
Chef Bundy said, “I know this sounds corny, but It’s all about the love. What you put into it is what you will get out of it.” His words could not be more true.
Thank you so much to Chef Bundy and the staff at Lemaire. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and experiencing many great dishes that were prepared with that “love”. When you visit Richmond, I highly recommend that you dine at Lemaire. We found the food inspired and fresh. Every bite erupted with a burst of different flavors. The dishes were flavor forward allowing the quality of the fresh ingredients to come through.
Chef Bundy has shared a very special recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes and Chesapeake Bay Crab Salad. His unusual preparation for making the Fried Green Tomatoes turned out spectacularly. Be sure to use firm green tomatoes. At this stage (when they are green), they do not have much flavor, so Chef Bundy marinates them for a half hour. The tomatoes are marinated in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar and basil, then drained, battered and finally, finished with a coat of Panko. They are then frozen on a cookie sheet and kept frozen until you are ready to fry them.
This method allows the exterior to turn to a nice golden brown, while the interior is perfect and doesn’t get mushy. He has developed this technique over many years of trial and error (and now we are the lucky beneficiaries of that!). Be sure to use firm green tomatoes and ones that do not have much flavor. They will have plenty of flavor by the time you have finished the dish.
We served this dish as a perfect light summertime dinner. It is also incredibly impressive to serve to guests. You will be very content when this dish is paired with a nice bottle of crisp white wine and a loaf of crusty French bread.
Next week I will be visiting two more of our favorite places in Richmond. One of these was to our friends at Manakintowne Specialty Growers. Have a great weekend!
Disclosure – Thank you to Lemaire for providing one dinner during our stay.
Fried Green Tomato And Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Salad
This salad is served with local sunflower shoots and toasted pecans, buttermilk, garden basil, and Maytag blue cheese vinaigrette.
6 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups rice wine vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup basil, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups flour
2 cups buttermilk mixed with 5 whole eggs
4 cups freshly ground Billy Bread crumbs (or Panko [Japanese style])
1 cup kosher salt (*I used about 1/4 cup Kosher salt)
1/4 cup fresh ground white pepper
Buttermilk, Garden Basil, And Maytag Blue Cheese Vinaigrette:
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp fresh garlic minced super fine
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Worchestershire
1/8 cup fresh basil chopped fine
1/8 cup chives minced
1/2 cup crumbled Maytag blue cheese
For Frying Tomatoes and Assembly of the Salad:
2 cups canola oil
12 inch high walled skillet
4 cups fresh sunflower shoots or any nice salad greens (* I used local micro greens)
1 pound jumbo lump blue crab (picked over for shell fragments )
1 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mosto lemon oil (* I used Meyer Lemon infused Olive Oil)
Banyuls vinegar (* I used Champagne Vinegar)
Method for marinade:
Mix the rice wine vinegar, basil, sugar, and water together.
Slice the green tomatoes evenly with a sharp knife.
Place tomatoes in a casserole dish layered evenly and cover with the marinade.
Let the tomatoes marinate for about 30 minutes.
Drain them in a colander for about 5 minutes.
Method for breading:
Lay the green tomatoes out on a cutting board and season with kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper.
Carefully, place the seasoned tomato in the all purpose flour. Lift it out and shake off the excess flour. Then, drop the tomato into the buttermilk/egg mixture and remove it. Let some of the egg wash slide off. Then drop the tomato into the bread crumbs and thoroughly coat. Lay the breaded tomatoes on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer until ready to use.
Method for Vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients except blue cheese in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together. Gently fold in the crumbled blue cheese. Whisk to incorporate if needed.
Method for Frying Tomatoes and Assembly of the Salad:
Heat the oil in a skillet until it reaches 325 degrees (med high).
Shallow pan fry the tomatoes until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Let cool slightly until you are able to cut them in ½.
While cooling, place the picked crab into a mixing bowl with the sunflower shoots. Add some of the e.v.o.o., banyuls vinegar, and mosto lemon oil to the sunflower shoots and crab. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Drizzle the buttermilk, basil, and blue cheese vinaigrette around the plate.
Place the warm tomato halves on the plates in a pinwheel shape. In the center, put the crab salad down and toss some toasted pecans over the salad. If desired, put some crumbled blue cheese over the tomatoes.
Executive Chef Walter Bundy
Lemaire – The Jefferson Hotel