An Obsession with Eggs Benedict
When it comes to brunch, I have a bit of an obsession with Eggs Benedict. In particular, I love creative variations on the Eggs Benedict theme. (And yes, I love Eggs Florentine, too, but we’re talking about meat right now.) I also like to pretend that Eggs Benedict was named after Benedict Arnold, although, in fact, the reality is a lot more boring: the dish was named for some NY financier whose surname was Benedict.
One of the best Eggs Benedict I have ever had was at La Cubanita, in Dallas’s Uptown district. Sadly, La Cubanita closed its doors in January of this year, another victim of the economic crisis. Their Benedict reliably sported perfectly poached eggs with chorizo sausage in lieu of Canadian bacon, and soft, flavorful, cotija corn cakes in lieu of English muffins. A chipotle-laced Hollandaise topped off this breakfast perfection.
Back in Phoenix for a day or two after the trip to Sedona, my sister and I indulged in a late brunch at The Compound, a quirky, stylish music venue/restaurant. It’s the sort of venue I would expect to find more at home in Austin than amidst Phoenix’s cultureless strip malls. We sat on the gorgeous, shady patio, surrounded by bougainvillea. My sister and I shared an appetizer of freshly mashed guacamole and hot-from-the-fryer homemade tortilla chips. While I veered toward breakfast, she stuck with lunch, ordering the steak fajitas.
Nostalgic for my breakfasts at the lost La Cubanita, I ordered the Chorizo Eggs Benedict. While I was confused by the total lack of chorizo in the actual dish, this Benedict still thrilled my taste buds. Again, perfectly poached eggs — the whites cooked through but tender, the yolk still soft. If the eggs in a Benedict aren’t cooked right, then no amount of accessorizing is going to save the dish. The Compound’s Benedict was served on the traditional English muffin with traditional Hollandaise sauce (also very well done), but instead of Canadian bacon, the eggs were nestled on a bed of shredded pork in adobo sauce. “Compound Potatoes,” a lively, spiced blend of yellow, purple, and sweet potatoes sauteed with red and green bell pepper and onion rounded out the meal.
If you have a favorite variation on Eggs Benedict, either something you’ve experienced out at a restaurant, or something you make at home, please share!
Here is the Hollandaise sauce recipe I use when making Eggs Benedict at home; I’ve found it to be a reliable one. Don’t use lemon juice from a bottle or one of those squeezy plastic lemons. I know the convenience is tempting, but this is one situation when you really need to bust out the fresh lemon. Also, use the freshest eggs possible for the best results.
(from Tyler Florence)
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
- pinch cayenne
- pinch of salt
Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving. [Original recipe at Food Network.]