Weekend brunch is always a special treat for me, and the Eggs Atchafalaya I was presented at Grand Coteau Bistro was the ultimate attraction. Perfectly poached eggs oozing liquid sunshine all over two crispy cornmeal-battered fried green tomatoes was topped off with a glorious crabmeat-infused hollandaise, and all served up with a bowl of creamy Gouda grits.
Grand Coteau is one of those sleepy little time-capsule communities that make Acadiana so intriguing to travelers. Only a stone’s throw off Interstate 49 north of Lafayette, this tiny St. Landry Parish town has a charm that’s hard to beat. From the prestigious girls’ school Academy of the Sacred Heart to the St. Charles College and tranquil seminary grounds, the historical significance of this town is evident. The gift stores, tearooms, cafes, and antique shops along the main byway are dotted with reclaimed storefronts and repurposed homes that keep the small-town charm in check.
And Grand Coteau Bistro is the main attraction (Editors note: Grand Coteau Bistro closed in 2017). When Chef Christopher Thames, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a winner of the hit Food Network show Chopped, teamed up with historic preservationist Leon Steele, it was a magic combination. Both lunch and dinner feature an adventurous combination of old-school Cajun/Creole with new interpretations. But it’s the chef’s spin on a brunch dish – Poached Eggs over Fried Green Tomatoes – that got my rapt attention on a recent visit, and will keep me coming back.
I didn’t get the chef’s Poached Eggs over Fried Green Tomatoes recipe, but as usual, I decided to recreate this spectacular dish in my kitchen. I believe it comes close to Chef Christopher’s masterpiece. Ahh, if every Saturday morning could be this delicious.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ cup white lump crabmeat
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Dash of hot sauce
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 cup peanut oil
- 2 large green tomatoes, sliced into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) rounds
- 2 cups packaged stone-ground grits
- Chicken stock
- 1 cup half and half, plus more if needed
- 1 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
- Kosher salt
- White pepper
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Water, for boiling
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- Fresh fruit, for garnish
- In a blender container, add the egg yolks and lemon juice and pulse until the mixture quickly lightens in color and is combined.
- Turn the blender to low, remove the cover, and slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Once the butter is combined and the sauce thickened, add a pinch of salt and cayenne to taste. Pour the sauce into a bowl, fold in the crabmeat, and gently stir to combine. Keep warm for serving.
- Add the flour to a shallow bowl and blend in the cayenne.
- In another bowl, whisk one egg with the buttermilk and a dash of hot sauce and set aside.
- Blend the cornmeal with the Cajun seasoning in a shallow pan and set aside. In three different stations, line up the flour, egg mixture, and cornmeal.
- In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the peanut oil and bring to 375ºF. Coat each tomato slice in flour and shake off the excess. Submerge into the egg mixture and place in the seasoned cornmeal breading. Pat firmly so the cornmeal sticks to each side of the tomatoes and move to a wire rack. Gently add the breaded tomato slices to the hot oil making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry on one side until browned and turn once with a spatula and continue frying until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Move the fried tomatoes back to the wire rack and season with sea salt immediately. Keep warm for serving.
- Make the grits according to your package directions, but make sure to use chicken stock instead of water. Make the grits to a stiff consistency, and then add the half and half along with the cheese. Cook on low until the ingredients combine and reach a creamy consistency. Add more half and half if needed to keep the grits moist and creamy. Keep warm and add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese just before serving.
- In a saucepan over high heat filled half way with water, bring to a boil. Lower the heat so that the water is now at a simmer just below the boiling point. Add the vinegar to the water.
- Crack one of the eggs into a small, shallow container and gently ease the egg into the water. Repeat quickly with the rest of the eggs. With a slotted spoon, move the egg whites closer to the yolks so that they stay together.
- Cover and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the egg whites are set.
- With the slotted spoon, gently lift the eggs out of the pan and place on a warm plate.
- For serving, add two green tomatoes to a platter and top with poached eggs. Spoon the warm hollandaise over each egg and sprinkle with diced green onion tops. Add a bowl of grits sprinkled with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and garnish with fresh fruit.
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