About 2 years ago I went to Londen for my studies. One of the most popular dishes I discovered there was eggs benedict. I’ve tried to read up a bit and practice on the British cuisine when I was there and got some great new recipes in my repertoire. Though its origins lie in New York, eggs benedict is a very popular brunch dish in London too. Maybe because it shares its name with the famous (London born and raised) Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch?
The origins of eggs benedict are a bit unclear, but my favourite explaination is the following one: in an interview for a column of The New Yorker in 1942, a retired Wall Street stock broker, Lemuel Benedict, said that somewhere in 1894 he had wandered into the Waldorf hotel. Hoping to find a cure for his hangover, he ordered ‘buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and spoons full of hollandaise’. The butler of the hotel was so impressed with the dish, that he’d put it on the menus! However, he switched the bacon for ham and the toast for a toasted English muffin.
The first time I tried this it went terribly wrong. Firstly I failed to make the hollandaise, it got curdled instead of creamy (so I used mayonnaise instead). Secondly, poaching with directly putting the egg in the water was super messy. For my fourth week of 52weeksofcooking, I wanted to try poaching eggs again and I finally managed to make decent eggs benedict! I used the clingfilm-in-a-cup technique, and it worked perfectly. I also discovered that you can try to save your curdled hollandaise sauce by pouring the sauce into a pan with water that is slowly heated.
If you want to practice, take a look at this video of Jamie Oliver!
If after a lot of practising you still can’t get nice poached eggs, in England they also sell something that’s called a Poach Pod, which look like these. It’s a bit cheating though because the eggs won’t actually be poached in the water, but cooked in a cup that floats on the water.
If you’re really in for a challenge, also try to make your own English muffins! I tried this recipe from thekitchn.com, and they were amazing! Otherwise just use some toasted bread. Nowadays there are lot’s of different versions of eggs benedict; you can stack them with whatever you like.
Tip: try some smoked salmon instead of ham or bacon.
Serves 4, takes about 30 minutes
- Rocket salad
- olive oil
- 4 English muffins
- 8 small or medium eggs
- 100g smoked ham (thin slices)
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 lemon
- white wine vinegar
- Poach Pod or clingfilm (optional, see video)
For the perfect poached egg, I refer to Jamie’s video!
Melt the butter in a small pan. Take a heatproof bowl, put the egg yolks in and place it over a pan of gently simmering water. Whisk in a tablespoon of lemon juice and the mustard. Whisk constantly, and very slowly (otherwise it will split) pour the butter into the egg mixture, until well combined. Add a splash of water to loosen the sauce when needed. Whisk in a splash of vinegar and season to perfection. Turn the heat off and keep warm over the pan of water, stirring occasionally, and loosening with an extra splash of water if needed.
Warm the muffins in the oven, or put them in a toaster. Season the rocket salad with a bit of olive oil, a drop of white vinegar, salt and pepper. Assemble all things together and enjoy!
Jamie’s recipe can be found here.