A few years ago my husband and I took a driving trip through the South, following Southern Living’s guide, “Drives and Dives.” I fell in love with the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, and had to sample this delicacy at every dive we visited, which included a stop at the Whistle Stop Café in Juliette, Georgia. Yes, it really does exist and does serve Fried Green Tomatoes.
Southerners are lucky as they enjoy fresh green tomatoes all summer long. This fruit is so popular in that neck of the woods that supermarkets even import them during the off-season. Further north, however, the season for green tomatoes is late summer and fall, just before the peak of the harvest, where Northerners can find green tomatoes at farmers markets, specialty food stores, or in their gardens. So, in my neck of the woods it’s time to fry up these tasty wonders. Until this trip, I hadn’t known much about green tomatoes. I learned they are not a special variety of tomato but rather an immature version of a standard tomato. Unlike ripe, red tomatoes that have a soft, juicy flesh and a balance of both a sweet and savory flavor, green tomatoes have a tart, tangy flavor with just an ever so slight sweetness; and their flesh is firm, which makes them good candidates for frying, broiling, or using in relishes. The skin of green tomatoes is a light- to lime-green color, and their flesh is a bright chartreuse. Green tomatoes have a very firm center and tiny, underdeveloped seeds.
While touring the South, I became so enamored with Fried Green Tomatoes I even ate them for breakfast! One hotel we stayed at paired them with my favorite special-occasion breakfast, Eggs Benedict. I had to re-create this combination when we returned home. Following is my version of that delicious dish. I added the herb, sorrel, to my hollandaise sauce, which I think gave my version melt-in-your-mouth flavor.
Eggs Benedict atop Fried Green Tomatoes with a Sorrel Hollandaise Sauce Serves 2
For the fried green tomatoes:
4 unripe green tomatoes ¾ cup buttermilk ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs ¼ cup cornmeal ¼ cup flour ¼ cup grated Romano cheese ¾ teaspoon chile powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Vegetable oil for frying Salt to taste Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Using a sharp knife, slice off the ends of green tomatoes and cut each tomato into three ½-inch crosswise slices. In a small shallow bowl, place buttermilk. In a medium shallow bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal, flour, cheese, chile powder, salt, and pepper. Dip tomato slices into buttermilk, then into the panko breadcrumb mixture, pressing the mixture onto the tomato slices to ensure it adheres.
In a deep, heavy electric skillet, pour vegetable oil to a depth of about ½ inch. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees F. Add green tomatoes and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the hollandaise sauce:
2 extra large egg yolks ½ cup butter, divided into 3 pieces 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons fresh sorrel, chopped Fill the bottom of a double boiler half way full with water, making sure water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Bring water to a gentle simmer. In the top of the double boiler, combine egg yolks and lemon juice. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring constantly until melted. Continue stirring until thickened. Add sorrel and mix gently. If the hollandaise sauce gets too thick, add a teaspoon or 2 of hot water. If the sauce falls apart, add a teaspoon or 2 of half-and-half and whisk until reconstituted. (If you don’t want to make hollandaise sauce from scratch, try the Knorr® package version and add chopped sorrel.)
For poached eggs: 4 extra large eggs 1 teaspoon distilled vinegar
If you have an egg poacher, fill the bottom of the poacher with water. Place over a high heat and bring water to a boil. Spray egg cups with non-stick spray and then break eggs into egg cups. Cook 4 minutes. If you don’t have an egg poacher, which is such a handy gadget, fill a large saucepan with 3 to 4 inches of water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce the heat so the water is a gentle boil. Add vinegar. Break eggs into individual cups. Using a spoon, stir water in a circular motion, creating a tornado. Once the tornado is really spinning, add 2 eggs and allow to cook for 2 ½ to 3 minutes. Yolks should still be soft in the center. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon and set on top of fried green tomatoes. Repeat process with 2 additional eggs.
For the English muffins: 2 English muffins, split in half 2 tablespoons butter, softened (optional)
While eggs are poaching, toast the English muffins in toaster. Muffins may be buttered if preferred or served dry.
Place 2 muffin halves on a plate. Top each half with 1 slice fried green tomato, then 1 poached egg. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce and serve immediately.
Shopping for green tomatoes: Green tomatoes should be between 2 to 4 inches in diameter and be round or plump with broad shoulders. Buy average- to large-sized fruit as overly small green tomatoes will have a more bitter taste. Don’t confuse green tomatoes with the heirloom variety Green Zebra or tomatillos. A good fresh green tomato will have a hint of sweetness.
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com. Follow Her on Facebook Or grab her Cookbook.
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