Eggs Benedict is one of the ultimate brunch dishes. It has a fair bit of history, with multiple origin stories from the late 1800’s. In one of these Lemuel Benedict, a New York stockbroker, told the New Yorker in the Talk of the Town column in 1942 that he walked into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and wanted something for his hangover. He ordered “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of Hollandaise”, something the widely known maître’d hôtel Oscar Tschirky refined to toasted English muffin and ham together with the poached egg and Hollandaise. Among other things, Oscar is also credited with the Waldorf Salad.
In the other main story Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, a regular patron of the Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City, wanted to try something new for lunch. After she had a discussion with the chef, Charles Ranhofer, he came up with the Eufa a’ la Benedick which was later published in his cookbook The Epicurean in 1894.
“Eggs à la Benedick – Cut some muffins in halves crosswise, toast them without allowing to brown, then place a round of cooked ham an eighth of an inch thick and of the same diameter as the muffins one each half. Heat in a moderate oven and put a poached egg on each toast. Cover the whole with Hollandaise sauce.” – Charles Ranhofer, The Epicurean.
What makes this origin story interesting is that Oscar Tschirky worked as the maître’d at the Delmonico’s restaurant before he became known as “Oscar of the Waldorf”.
In this Original Eggs Benedict recipe, we explore the Lemuel Benedict version with crispy bacon and toast to create a hearty version of the dish a little more suited for a Nordic winter cabin trip than a Sunday brunch in the city. Use whatever toast you like, we like individual rustic, sourdough wheat rolls (in Norwegian known as “rundstykke” and in Swedish “fralla”). For the established version, just follow Chef Ranhofers recipe above.
Old school Eggs Benedict.
- 4 eggs
- 15 ml white wine vinegar
Prepare for the poached eggs
- Bring a pan of water to barely a simmer. Use a large pan, but only fill it with water to about 20 cm height and add a splash of white wine vinegar.
- Cook the eggs whole in their shells for 30 seconds, immediately followed by putting them under cold water or in an ice bath. Keep the water in the sauce pan simmering.
- (Optional) Strain each egg in a sieve and put them individually into its own small bowl.
- See step 1 and 3 under Finishing for how to complete the poached eggs.
- 2 egg yolks
- 5 ml white wine vinegar
- 100 g room-temperature butter
Make the Hollandaise
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Reserve the whites for other use and put the yolks in a bowl together with the vinegar.
- Whisk and warm slowly over a bain-marie (a saucepan filled with simmering water) until slightly foamy, the yolks should not get coagulated. Continuously lift up your bowl from the bain-marie to touch the bottom of the bowl to check the temperature, it should never be hot to touch, only warm.
- Take one third of the butter (in cubes) and whisk into the yolks, still checking the temperature continuously. Once incorporated, take the rest of the butter in two batches.
- To finish, season with salt and a little black pepper.
- 140 g dry-cured smoked bacon
Prepare the bacon
- Cut the bacon into lengths equal to the length (or width) of your toast and place into a heated pan (medium-high heat). Stir the bacon in the hot pan for about 30 seconds and then lower the heat to medium and let the bacon slowly fry until the fat has rendered and they are crispy, around 4-5 minutes.
- Remove the bacon from pan and let some of the fat be absorbed on a paper towel. Save the rendered fat in the pan for later use.
- For the poached eggs, make a big swirl in the water with a large spoon. Drop each egg from its bowl into the hot water along the outside and let them sit for 2:45.
- In the meantime, halve the wheat rolls, re-heat the bacon pan on medium-high heat (with the rendered fat still in it) and toast the rolls until golden (1-2 minutes).
- When the eggs are done cooking, use a holed spatula to lift them up from the boiling water. Clean up the poached eggs by removing any small strings or pieces of egg white and place them on paper towels. The egg surfaces needs to cool down and be lukewarm before serving, otherwise the sauce will split along the boundary surface (use ice water and pat them dry with a paper towel to speed up this process if you like).
- Put the bacon on the toast, place the poached egg on top of the bacon, sprinkle a little salt and cover the egg with Hollandaise.