This biscuit was inspired by a salad on the menu at a farm-to-table restaurant I worked at in Philly. It blew my mind, and having most of my family in the south, I figured I'd put two and two together.
My sister-in-law grew up right around The Irondale Cafe-and if you know, that's the iconic cafe from the book, published in 1987 by Fannie Flagg: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Which later turned into a major motion picture.
Every time I'm in the south, I always look forward to southern fare. It feels very nostalgic to me, even though I only lived in the south for 3 years out of my life- the flavors always bring me back to that brief time in my childhood. Now I'm not just talking about southern barbecue; I am talking about the real nitty gritty stuff; plates heaping with oily veggies (no one said it was healthy!), cornbread, chicken fried steak, trays of mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole with too much sugar, and fluffy biscuits made with lard. Biscuits and gravy are one of my absolute favorite things for breakfast, and you can't find it anywhere better than in the south.
Here I've made a crunchy, flaky biscuit and fried some under-ripened tomatoes. They are the best for frying because they don't have as much water content, which helps them hold up during the frying process and have a brighter flavor than red tomatoes. I found spreadable chèvre (creamy goat cheese-I used this brand) and paired it with Stone Hollow Farmstead Pepper Jelly. This stuff is HOT but the combination with the goat cheese, helps to mellow this sandwich out.
If you haven't tried hot pepper jelly-you're in for a real treat; if you like sweet and spicy as I do, you'll fall in love with this stuff. Spread it on a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, or mix it into your dressings for some added heat.
For the biscuits:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 sticks cold unsalted butter, grated on a large tooth cheese grater and frozen until ready to use
- 2 cups heavy cream, divided, plus more for brushing
For the tomatoes:
- 2/ 3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 1/ 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/ 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/ 2 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1/ 2 cup corn flour (fine cornmeal)
- 2 large green tomatoes, sliced into 8-1/4 inch rounds (4 slices per tomato)
- Neutral oil, for frying
- Chèvre (soft, spreadable goat cheese)
- Stone Hollow Farmstead Hot Pepper Jelly
To make the biscuits:
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Prep and unlined baking sheet. Note: You'll want to bake these directly on the metal so they get nice and crispy on the bottom.
In a large bowl, add the all-purpose and cake flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Note: You can also place the dry ingredients in the freezer until ready to use.
Scatter frozen butter over dry mixture. Working quickly, use your hands to cut the butter into the flour, rubbing between your finger tips to create flakes. Some larger chunks of butter should remain and the flour should begin to take on the color of butter. Note: I prefer this method over a pastry blender or two knifes because you can control the texture.
Create a well in the center of the bowl. Add in 1 cup of the heavy cream. Gently toss together (I use a bowl scrapper for this step-but hands work well too, just be gentle) until the dough has some shaggy moistened clumps.
Create another well, and repeat the process again. This time once the dough looks shaggy and still somewhat dry, pull up any dried bits from the bottom and with the palm of your hand gently press down. Continue doing so until you have a shaggy mount of dough.
Dump out dough to a lightly floured surface. Using a bench scraper or your hands pat the dough together into a 6x12 rectangle. Note: You'll have to really manipulate the dough at this point. So even hitting it a bit with the rolling pin or pushing together firmly is ok here.
Fold the dough in half, and roll into another 6x12 inch rectangle. Repeat the process two more times. Note: At this point the dough should be holding together.
Once folding process is complete, roll it into a 6x12 rectangle with about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in height.
Cut off all the ends to expose the layers, and make sharp edges for the rectangle. Note: Scraps can be saved or discarded.
Cut rectangle into 8 even biscuits by cutting the dough in half lengthwise and then 4 across. Biscuits should be about 3x3 inches each.
Note: You can chill the biscuit dough overnight at this point or bake immediately. I prefer to chill so the butter has time to firm back up. Evenly place biscuits on the unlined tray. Brush tops evenly with heavy cream. Place into the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes reduce oven temperature to 350°F, rotate, and bake another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven. While the biscuits are cooling, fry the tomatoes.
To fry the tomatoes:
Place a cooling rack over a baking tray. Prep 3 shallow pie plates for dredging.
In the first plate whisk to combine 1/3 cup of flour, salt, paprika, cayenne.
In the second pie plate whisk to combine the buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce.
In the third pie plate whisk to combine cornmeal and remaining 1/3 cup of flour.
Begin by dipping both sides of the tomatoes in the first dry mixture, followed by the buttermilk mixture, and lastly the cornmeal mixture (dry, wet, dry). Place each coated slice on the prepared rack. Repeat this process until all 8 slices are coated. Let rest until oil is heated and ready to fry.
In a shallow fry pan, add oil filling about 1/4 inch high.
Once oil is shimmering, add tomato slices and fry for 2 minutes per side. Note: Depending on you pan size be careful to not over crowd the pan.
Remove fried tomatoes from oil and place back on rack. Sprinkle tops with finishing salt. Continue process until all tomatoes are fried.
To assemble biscuit.
Split biscuit in half.
Spread ~2 tablespoons of hot pepper jelly on top half of the biscuit.
Spread desired amount of chèvre on the bottom half of the biscuit.
Place the fried green tomato over top of the chèvre and close with the top half. Serve immediately.