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TIP OF THE DAY: Reinvent Eggs Benedict With These Variations

Since it was invented in the 1860s, Eggs Benedict has been a posh addition to the breakfast-lunch-brunch menu. It was created by the chef at a tony New York restaurant, Delmonico’s, for a wealthy customer, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict (here’s the history of Eggs Benedict).

The original recipe topped two toasted English muffin halves with round-cut slices of ham, poached eggs; and Hollandaise sauce. Over the years, the more conveniently-shaped Canadian bacon replaced the trimmed ham.

The ham substitutions continued, gaining momentum among creative chefs in modern times. Why not create your own reinvention of Eggs Benedict for Mother’s Day or other special occasion? Select your options from these categories of ingredients:

English Muffin Substitute

  • Buttermilk biscuits
  • Corn cakes
  • Croissants
  • Crumpets
  • Portabello mushrooms (recipe)
  • Potato pancakes
  • Rustic country bread
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  •  

    Classic Eggs Benedict. Photo courtesy American Egg Board.

     

    Note: You need a type of bread that will soak up the egg yolk. Pita, for example, doesn’t work here. Steer clear of regular pancakes and waffles. They take what should be an elegant dish to McGriddles territory.

    Ham/Bacon Substitute

  • Artichoke hearts, asparagus, avocado, broccoli rabe, grilled portabella mushrooms (recipe), grilled tomato slice, creamed or wilted spinach
  • Corned beef hash (recipe)
  • Crab cakes
  • Lobster tail, shrimp, scallops (alone or in combination)
  • Pâté de foie gras
  • Poached chicken
  • Poached salmon
  • Prosciutto or serrano ham
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax
  • Steak tartare
  •  
    What about everyday bacon strips? Eggs Benedict should be a special dish. By all means serve poached eggs with bacon—just not on an English muffin with Hollandaise sauce.

    Similarly, fried eggs, sausage and gravy should remain their fine casual selves, and not be adapted into a Benedict-style variation.

     

    Portabella Eggs Benedict, a vegetarian
    option. Photo courtesy Mushroom Council.

     

    Hollandaise Sauce Substitute

  • Béchamel Sauce, a white sauce that can be flavored with just about anything (recipe)
  • Dill Sauce (béchamel with dill or other herb/herb mix)
  • Mornay Sauce (béchamel with cheese)
  • Mushroom Sauce
  • Sriracha-Accented Hollandaise Sauce (spicy)
  • Truffled Hollandaise Sauce
  •  
    Consider how you can flavor a basic béchamel to match the ham substitute. For example, add dill to the sauce for lobster, horseradish and lemon zest for crab cakes.
     
    Garnish

  • Baby arugula
  • Basil, chiffonade
  • Caviar
  • Chives, snipped
  • Microgreens
  •  

    FOOD TRIVIA: THE HISTORY OF BRUNCH

    The term, a combination of breakfast and lunch, was coined in the U.K. in 1895 to describe “a Sunday meal for Saturday-night carousers.” This first reference in print was an article in Hunter’s Weekly (source).

    Brunch eliminated the need to rise early for breakfast. Instead of the conventional post-church early Sunday dinner, the new meal, served around noon, started with a course of toast, marmalade, tea. coffee and other breakfast foods before moving on to some heartier fare.

    And the rest is delicious history.

      




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