Eggs Benedict

Delmonico's

Eggs Benedict is a traditional American brunch or breakfast dish that consists of two halves of an English muffin each of which is topped with Canadian bacon, ham or sometimes bacon, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce (egg yolk, liquid butter, water, and lemon juice). The dish was first popularized in New York City. Many variations on the basic recipe are served.

There are conflicting accounts as to the origin of Eggs Benedict. Delmonico’s in lower Manhattan claims on its menu that ‘Eggs Benedict was first created in our ovens in 1860.’ One of its former chefs, Charles Ranhofer, also published the recipe for ‘Eggs à la Benedick’ in 1894.

In an interview recorded in the ‘Talk of the Town’ column of ‘The New Yorker’ in 1942, the year before his death, Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, claimed that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered ‘buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of hollandaise.’ Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d’hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham for the bacon and a toasted English muffin for the toast.

Another, later claim to the creation of Eggs Benedict was circuitously made by Edward P. Montgomery on behalf of Commodore E. C. Benedict. In 1967 Montgomery wrote a letter to then ‘The New York Times’ food columnist Craig Claiborne which included a recipe he claimed to have received through his uncle, a friend of the commodore. Commodore Benedict’s recipe — by way of Montgomery — varies greatly from Ranhofer’s version, particularly in the hollandaise sauce preparation — calling for the addition of a hot, hard-cooked egg and ham mixture.’

Several variations of Eggs Benedict exist. Eggs Atlantic, Eggs Hemingway, or Eggs Copenhagen (also known as Eggs Royale and Eggs Montreal in New Zealand) substitutes salmon or smoked salmon for the ham. This is a common variation found in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. It is also known as ‘Eggs Benjamin’ in some restaurants in Canada. Eggs Blackstone substitutes streaky bacon for the ham and adds a tomato slice.

Eggs Blanchard substitutes Béchamel (a roux of butter, flour, and milk) for Hollandaise. Eggs Florentine substitutes spinach for the ham or adds it underneath. Eggs Mornay substitutes Mornay (cheese) sauce for the Hollandaise. Huevos Benedictos substitutes sliced avocado and/or Mexican chorizo for the ham, and is topped with both a salsa (such as salsa roja or salsa brava) and hollandaise sauce.

Eggs Hussarde substitutes Holland rusks (hard, dry biscuits) for the English muffin and adds Bordelaise sauce (wine and marrow sauce). Irish Benedict replaces the ham with corned beef or Irish bacon. Dutch Benedict, popular in the eastern region of Pennsylvania, replaces the ham or bacon with scrapple. Eggs Hebridean from Stornoway, Scotland replaces the ham with black pudding (a blood sausage).

Eggs Cochon, a variation from New Orleans restaurants replaces the ham with pork ‘debris’ (slow roasted pork shredded in its own juices) and the English muffin with a large buttermilk biscuit. Eggs Trivette adds Creole mustard to the Hollandaise and adds a topping of Crayfish.

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