Cut the bacon crosswise into ¼-inch pieces. Fry in a skillet over medium heat until bacon is crisp and has rendered its fat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet.
Slice the tomatoes into ½-inch thick slices. Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow pan. Dredge the tomatoes slices in the cornmeal mixture.
Fry the tomatoes in the reserved bacon fat over medium heat, turning once, until golden brown. Takes about 2-3 minutes per side. Keep the slices warm in a low oven until all are cooked.
Pour out all but about three tablespoons of the bacon fat. Place the pan back over medium heat and add cream and salt, stirring to release any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal mixture to thicken the gravy. Stir until the gravy is thick and bubbly.
To serve - place two halves of a toasted English muffin on a plate. Top with fried tomato slices, gravy, and bacon. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
What kind of tomatoes are best for this recipe? You'll need a very firm red tomato that is just barely past the green stage. That's why winter tomatoes work best. I can't emphasize enough that the primary consideration here is texture. Make absolutely certain that the tomatoes you choose are very firm, with little to no "give" when gently squeezed.
Can I use green tomatoes? Yes, just remember that green tomatoes have a more tart, astringent flavor and that will carry over in the finished recipe.
Can I store the leftovers? Any fried food is best served fresh and warm. You can keep the leftovers for a few days in the refrigerator, but the coating will be very soft (mushy even) when reheated.
Tips for Success:
Slicing tomatoes: Use a very sharp, thin knife (or a serrated knife) to cut the tomatoes. A dull knife will tend to tear the skin making it more difficult to cut cleanly through the tomato.
Gravy: Making gravy is easy! In this recipe, the bacon fat adds a delicious flavor to the gravy that pairs well with the cornmeal coating on the tomatoes. It will take a few minutes for the gravy to thicken. Be patient and don't be tempted to turn the heat up higher to rush the process.
Breading: Dredging is the easiest and simplest way of breading (no eggs involved and no dipping into different dishes). To help the coating adhere to the tomato slices, you may need to dry them lightly with a paper towel.