I’ve been on a bit of a burger binge of late, trying to master the smash burger on our flattop outdoor griddle, and let’s just say it’s been an enjoyable and delicious project. I absolutely love burgers. If I were to think of a dish/meal that is viewed as purely American and awesomely iconic in its deliciousness, it would be the burger. And its versatility and various ways of presenting it are legendary.
I was watching a cooking show recently. The chefs were the iconic duo of Jacques Pepin and Julia Child, and it was titled “Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home.” It aired in 1999 with 22 episodes. I’ve seen almost every episode up till now. Hey, don’t judge me. I’’m a foodie.
Anyway, one of the episodes they covered was on beef, and more specifically the hamburger. In the episodes they prepare a lot of “upper-brow” dishes. When they are done cooking their dish, they always sample the food along with a glass of wine, commenting on how good it turned out. What struck me when they fixed and then bit into their burgers was how much joy both showed with that first bite. It was like they were kids again. They smiled and shook their heads in disbelief, as if to say “this could be as good as food gets.” Heck, Julia even had a cold beer with hers.
Today’s column isn’t so much about how to prepare the burger itself as much as it is what to put on it, and I’m going to strongly suggest you give a fried green tomato a try for a couple reasons. Green tomatoes are typically firmer with less water, which is perfect for frying. If you tried to fry a red tomato, you would have a mess on your hands, which is why you never hear Southerners discuss fried red tomatoes. Lately I am seeing green tomatoes carried at grocery stores, which is awesome. Lastly, the added texture and flavor to the burger is really fun, interesting and absolutely delicious.
In terms of frying green tomatoes, it’s not that tough. The recipe is below. Consider fixing some burgers your favorite way and give a fried green tomato a try. We served ours on an English muffin.
CHEESEBURGER WITH A FRIED GREEN TOMATO
2 large green tomatoes
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup of cornmeal
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite Cajun rub, optional
Whisk your eggs and milk in one bowl. In a second bowl, place your flour. In the third, mix together your cornmeal, breadcrumbs and your seasoning. Slice the tomatoes to roughly 1/2 inch thick. Dredge in flour, then the liquid, then the breadcrumbs. Set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes or more to allow things to set up. Place vegetable oil in a skillet about 1/2 inch deep over medium-high heat. When a flick of breadcrumbs immediately sizzles, you are ready to fry. When the fried side is brown, flip them. Fry to brown again then remove. Place on the cooling rack to drain the oil. Serve on top of your favorite burger. It might be the best burger you’ve ever had. Enjoy!