Chef Charles Ranhofer is credited with creating Eggs a la Benedict at Delmonico’s Restaurant in Lower Manhattan. He came up with the combination in the 1860s when a regular diner, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, sought something new on the menu. The dish began being served regularly at Delmonico’s, and Chef Ranhofer finally published the recipe in his 1894 cookbook.
Some attribute the recipe to a Lemuel Benedict. Legend says that in 1894, in a somewhat drunken state, he meandered into New York’s Waldorf Hotel and ordered bacon and a poached egg on toast. The maître d’, one Oscar Tschirsky thought the combination would make a tasty addition to the menu, but he switched the bacon to Canadian bacon and the toast to an English muffin.
Hmmmm… then again, it should be noted that Tschirsky had previously worked at Delmonico’s Restaurant, right around the same time that Eggs a la Benedict started becoming popular. Okay, so he perhaps “pinched” it.
Regardless, Eggs Benedict is easy to make at home. Jazz it up or keep it Super Simple. You choose.
First, use a packet mix or make your own Hollandaise sauce. An immersion blender makes it in a snap!
¾ c butter
3 lg egg yolks
3 T water
2 T fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt & pepper
Melt the butter in a microwave or small pan till bubbly. Meanwhile, place eggs, water, & lemon juice in a bowl and start blending with the immersion blender. Then, very slowly drizzle the butter into the bowl, still constantly blending. Season with salt & pepper and cover with plastic wrap while preparing the other ingredients.
To poach your eggs, break each egg, one at a time, into a small bowl, such as a custard cup. If the yolk breaks, set it aside for some other use. Slide up to 4 eggs at a time into a pot of simmering hot water. Cook just 3-4 minutes so they will set but still have runny yolks. Gently remove them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Assemble each serving of Eggs Benedict by placing both halves of a toasted English muffin, cut sides up, on a plate. Top each with a slice or two of seared Canadian bacon, followed by a poached egg and a large spoonful of Hollandaise sauce. Garnish each with a sprinkle of finely sliced chives or other chopped fresh herbs and serve with some crispy home-fried potatoes and some fresh fruit.
Then you can start to imagine the possibilities! You could kick this up to a lunch entrée by replacing the English muffins with a baked potato. (Remove the hot pulp, mash, add butter, salt & pepper; then return the seasoned pulp to the potato skin and top with the bacon, egg, and Hollandaise sauce.
Consider supplementing or varying the protein. Try Florentine Eggs Benedict by adding sauteed spinach and sliced mushrooms. Go for Eggs Benedict Royale by replacing the Canadian bacon with smoked salmon. Replace the Canadian bacon with crispy strips of traditional bacon and/or sauteed, sliced sweet onions. Or replace the bacon with sliced turkey and serve over a pan-fried cake of leftover stuffing. Another fun twist is to use thinly sliced ham and sliced fresh avocado.
Of course, there’s my own personal favorite. Go for Super Simple Neptune Eggs Benedict by replacing the Canadian bacon with lobster or king crab legs, lightly sautéed in salty butter. This is perfect with thin asparagus spears or baby spinach leaves between the seafood and a toasted, buttered English muffin.