Poached eggs, ham, Hollandaise, what could be better? How about a bit of variety? Or how about something just a little less heavy? Maybe a little less ham-forward? Here’s a few twists or reinterpretations of the good old classic Eggs Benedict (more on the much-debated origins of this famous dish.)
#1 – The California
What’s in it: Toasted English muffin, grilled onion, slightly sautéed tomato, poached egg, avocado, spinach or Artichoke hearts and Hollandaise sauce.
Now, how exactly are you supposed to keep all the ingredients from sliding around on the plate?
Sure the question may sound a bit precious but not thinking your presentation will result in a good looking California Benedict that’s virtually impossible to eat. The whole reason I say “slightly sautéed” tomato is because they slide around less when you flash sauté them or pan-steam them in a tablespoon of water. Done properly, the sliced tomato should be warm, not cool and have a slightly darker color than a fresh slice. Towel dry it prior to plating and it’ll stay put. Grilled onions should be sliced thin and well grilled too. Onion marmalade is another option there. As for the oh-so-slippery avocado, consider slicing it very thin and/or, stacking it up in a barricade-like formation around the poached egg.
#2 – Senor Benedicto
What’s in it: Roasted Ortega or Anaheim Chile, Hollandaise, top with sprinkles of Choizo and a dash of Paprika. In lieu of the standard English muffin you can do savory cornbread (link), a jalapeno-cheddar cheese biscuit or go with the classic Bolillo (a kind of Mexican baguette). Just square off the edges and pan fry it for a moment to give it some texture and the fortitude it needs to stand up to the sauce.
#3 – Get Crabby
Made too many crab cakes for that cocktail party? Day old crab cakes are fine maybe even preferable for this Benedict.
What’s in it: Crab cake, asparagus spears sliced to fit on top of the crab cake. If they’re chunkier asparagus spears in half lengthwise and lay the flat side down (article on the right way to do asparagus). Dill is a nice addition too, either in your sauce or dashed on top but hold off (!) if your crab cakes are on the dill-y side. Note: less is more with this one. Crab is rich.
#4 – Benedict Brussels
This is my new favorite Benedict-inspired recipe and once again I have leftovers to thank for it! It’s seriously, seriously good.
What’s in it: Polenta cake,* poached egg, fried Brussels sprouts (garlic and balsamic) and a sprinkle of cello sliced parmesan. That’s it! These babies don’t need anything else except maybe some fresh cracked pepper and salt.
#5 – Go Italian
Polenta cake, prosciutto, poached eggs and Hollandaise (light on the lemon) or make it easy on you and do basic Béchamel Sauce with a little tarragon. This one tastes like Tuscany on a late fall morning. Pair with a nice rosé or pinot grigio. Have leftover Italian sausage? Use that and pair with a slightly heavier wine like a light pinot noir.
Note*: The easiest way to polenta cakes is go to Whole Foods, Trader Joes or some fancy schmancy food shop and buy cooked, ready-made polenta in the tube. To use, all you have to do is slice them in the round and heat ‘em up in the pan with a little refined olive oil. Want to make your own? You can do that too. This recipe will tell you how.