The Benedict Revival

Grilled levain bread topped with a smoked fishcake, harissa hollandaise, and poached egg. Eggs Benedict, prosciutto di Parma, burrata, toasted muffin, crushed truffle, hollandaise, parmesan potato gratin, and greens. Pork Belly Benny: two poached eggs covered in hollandaise served with hoisin-glazed pork belly strips on Asian radish cakes.

These three creative Benedict variations recently sighted on menus around the country suggest this is not your father’s eggs Benedict anymore. And yet one of my favorite breakfasts is that traditional combination of a toasted English muffin topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce—each component perfectly made.

Did You Know? Eggs Benedict are on 35.6% of all U.S. menus, up 11% since 2009. Menu penetration ranges from 3.1% in fast-casual restaurants, to 43.0% in casual dining, to 69.8% in fine dining.

When the muffin is crisp and fluffy, the bacon is appropriately salty-smoky, the eggs are that still-wobbly balance of fully coagulated white and runny yolk, and the hollandaise is smooth, buttery, lemony, and luxurious, you get a delicious indulgence that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s not such an easy thing to do, and many kitchens do eggs Benedict poorly. The hollandaise is the trickiest part, because the emulsion of butter and egg yolk can easily break. Hollandaise is one of the world’s great sauces, and one of the five Mother Sauces of classical cuisine, along with béchamel, velouté, espagnole, and classic tomato sauce. But it turns out that today’s UHT pasteurized butter is different from the low-temperature pasteurized and cultured butter of Escoffier and Carême’s day, and cannot form a true emulsion. That’s why many kitchens that do hollandaise from scratch add heavy cream to stabilize the sauce.

The other tricky part of the formula is the poached egg—easy to overcook and toughen. I like to hold the eggs, still in their shells, in a sous vide circulator at 61–-64 degrees, then crack them to order over the muffin (you want to pour off any liquid egg white that hasn’t set). While there may be some controversy over whether this is really a poached egg, you do get that crucial just-set white and runny yolk that mixes in and creates a new sauce with the hollandaise when the customer forks it open. I’ve even seen quail eggs done like this for upscale catering.

Another method is to poach the eggs ahead of time and chill them on cheesecloth, which you can then use as a screen to lower them into simmering water to retherm at service time.

Once you’ve mastered those basics—and it’s all a matter of attention to detail—it’s easy to create signature riffs on the basic formula.

Biscuits, latkes, brioche, sourdough toast, corn cakes, or another starchy base can replace the English muffin as a carrier. Replace the ham with another protein, like smoked salmon, crab cakes, country bacon, pulled pork or shredded short rib meat, or with a vegetable-based topping like ratatouille or sautéed wild mushrooms (adding spinach to a classic Benedict creates eggs Florentine). Switch up the hollandaise, either with one of the classic variations like Béarnaise (with tarragon and shallots) or Choron (Béarnaise + tomato paste), or with a contemporary twist like kimchi or white truffle. Add sliced avocado or cheese. The only constant seems to be the eggs.

Get Started

  • Minor’s® Culinary Cream can be added to scratch hollandaise to make it more stable, especially on a steam table
  • Add a Minor’s flavor concentrate like Herb de Provence for a distinctive hollandaise variation
  • Consider using new Chef-mate® Chorizo Skillet or Corned Beef Hash on a Benedict
  • Two signature Benedicts to try:
    • Rio Grande Eggs Benedict – Start with a folded flour tortilla filled with pulled pork and black beans, topped with two poached eggs, corn salsa, scallions, Ancho Hollandaise (made with Minor’s Ancho Flavor Concentrate), and chopped cilantro
    • Brew Pub Benedict – Split toasted pretzel roll topped with grilled bratwurst, poached eggs, and hollandaise flavored with prepared horseradish, whole grain mustard, and chopped chives Source: Datassential SNAP! Eggs Benedict (2019)

Source: Datassential SNAP! Eggs Benedict (2019)