EGGS BENNY WITH A TWIST
This decadent brunch dish with all its variants, whether it be served with crispy bacon, sliced ham or with smoked salmon and baby spinach, is a favourite menu item in the western world for a very good reason: it's darned delicious!
This recipe is for those of you who have progressed from the humble fried egg, to the more challenging silky scrambled, and have got the knack for the king of them all: the perfect poached egg, with its gooey center and iconic tear drop shape and now want to reach god-like status amongst your family or peers. Be warned though, the amount of butter that goes into the sauce means it should be eaten only on occasion, unless you want an early visit to the cardiac ward.
Saying that, it shouldn’t be that hard to master the Benny, as it’s really just 3 steps: make the Hollandaise, poach the egg and assemble: it’s that easy. Easier said than done, I hear you thinking. Well, there is only one way to get better at cooking techniques, and that is to practise. Just try not to practise on the same person, because of the aforementioned reason.
Did you know historians give credit to two different versions of the origin of the dish ‘eggs benedict'? As usual these are hotly disputed but the first seems more probable to me, and is most commonly believed to be true. So, one day in 1860 in ‘_Delmonicos_’, America's first restaurant, a wealthy regular patron named Mrs. LeGrand Benedict had grown bored of the same old breakfast menu and asked to see the chef, Charles Ranhofer.
Upon his arrival she demanded that in that instant he come up with something befitting of her palate or he would never see her patronage again. This chef being quite a quick thinker, dashed into the kitchen to get started. He cut a muffin crosswise, toasted the halves without allowing them to brown, then placed a round of cooked ham, cut an eighth of an inch thick and of the same diameter as the muffins, on each half. He then put a poached egg on each half before covering the whole lot with Hollandaise sauce and in doing so invented ‘Eggs Benedict’, much to the delight of Mrs. LeGrand Benedict. His creation was so enamoured it even made an appearance in his cookbook _the Epicurean_ published in 1894.
The alternative version states that somewhat coincidentally that very same year in 1894, mid-morning at the prestigious Waldorf Hotel in New York, a very hung over and bleary-eyed Wall Street broker named Lemuel Benedict sat down and asked the waiter if he could make an exception and allow him to make up his own order, whilst discreetly sliding a folded bill towards the waiter. In seeing how wretched poor Mr Benedict looked, this apparently pulled on the waiter’s heart strings (and no doubt purse strings), so he took his order of “some buttered toast, crisp bacon, with two poached eggs topped with a hooker full of hollandaise”. Far from being disgruntled, the Waldorf’s legendary chef Oscar Tschirky obliged and in a flash of inspiration went so far as to substitute Canadian bacon for crisp bacon and switched up the toasted bread for a more posh English muffin, and then allegedly in honour of Lemuel, put the new dish on his breakfast and luncheon menu, calling it – you guessed it: ‘Eggs Benedict’.
Chef Dylan tip: It is crucial to have fresh eggs, or you have no chance at producing that awesome poached egg shape so head to your local greengrocer not the supermarket. Make sure the water in the saucepan doesn’t touch your bowl or you will scramble your sauce. Don’t let the hollandaise get hot it should be lukewarm or it will split.
PREP TIME: 45 mins
COOKING TIME: 20 mins
150 g unsalted butter melted in the microwave
2 large egg yolks
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tbsp CREOLE
1 tbs white wine vinegar
2 English muffins or sourdough toast
100 g sliced leg ham, off the bone (or bacon or smoked salmon)
1. Find a saucepan and a metal or heatproof bowl that will sit stably over the saucepan. We call it a double boiler; the bowl should fit snugly about a third down the pan. Half-fill the pan with water and bring to a low simmer.
2. Place the egg yolks in your heatproof mixing bowl, which you should then place over the pan of just-simmering water. It’s important that the saucepan is on a low heat, or the eggs will scramble.
3. Using a small whisk, begin to whisk your eggs, then add in your white wine vinegar.
4. Keep whisking, and then start adding the melted butter by slowly drizzling it in, whisking all the time, continue until all the butter has been incorporated. The result should be a lovely, smooth, thick sauce.
5. Sprinkle in the CREOLE and whisk to combine.
6. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, heat the water to poach and add white wine vinegar. Poach eggs then remove to dry on a paper towel (don’t skip this step otherwise you will have soggy toast which plenty of cafés serve up, and in my humble opinion is a criminal offence!).
7. Slice the muffins and lightly toast (don’t butter them for heaven’s sake there is already enough butter in this recipe).
Assemble by placing the muffins on the plate; divide up the ham evenly on each piece. Then very carefully using a slotted spoon place an egg on each piece of muffin. Now generously spoon over the creamy hollandaise and serve to your gobsmacked guest.