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Chorizo Benedict

By Regina Schrambling
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
 

Usually, when I see eggs Benedict on a menu, my eye skips to the next anything. Brunch is where cliches go to molder, and this is one of the weariest: a dish allegedly invented to alleviate a hangover, inevitably hash-slung by cooks battling their own hangovers.

At its most traditional, it's uninspiring; taken to poorly executed extremes, it can induce what the French describe as crise de foie, that singular liver stress brought on by the likes of a stick of butter converted into hollandaise atop poached eggs on bacon on a buttered English muffin. To put it more concisely: boring, with fries.

So, when I saw the phrase “Irish Benedict” on a menu the other week, followed by “corned beef/Swiss/poached egg/Thousand Island hollandaise,” I had to order it. An obvious knockoff of a Reuben sandwich would surely involve not just creativity but acidity to counter the richness. And it convinced me that eggs Benedict is one classic made to be reinterpreted at home.

Swap in chorizo and lime hollandaise, or cremini mushrooms and red pepper hollandaise, and it's a whole new brunch.

Since my happy encounter with the Irish, at a restaurant called Meat & Potatoes in Pittsburgh, I've been seeing all manner of variations. Richard Deshantz, the chef there, says he has developed no fewer than 30 of them, always taking “old familiar things people can relate to and reinventing them.” But his riff on a Reuben became the menu standby.

Another restaurant in the same city offered a slow-roasted pork Benedict, a smoked salmon Benedict and a soy sausage Benedict, covering every base for carnivores and vegetarians and anyone in between. I've since come across versions online made with crab cakes, with pork belly, with spinach and tomato, even with steak, and with hollandaise alternatives including sauce Choron and an over-the-top sausage gravy. The muffin is not even always a muffin, English or otherwise; a potato pancake might wander into the equation.

Eggs Benedict is almost kitchen Legos; there are so many ways to put it together yourself. The hollandaise is crucial, but the only tricky part is making it and not breaking it. I'm the timid type, so I do it in an improvised double-boiler, with a stainless-steel bowl set over barely bubbling water in a saucepan. It's just a matter of blending a room-temperature egg yolk with lemon or lime juice until the egg starts to cook, then whisking in melted butter off the heat until the sauce emulsifies.

Most recipes yield oceans of hollandaise, but it's possible to whip up enough for a mere two or four servings. And, because hollandaise is one of those mother sauces that spawns a dozen others, it can be flavored many ways very simply. (Choron is tomato added to bearnaise, which itself is tarragon added to hollandaise.)

As the base for any Benedict, an English muffin does an ideal job of capturing oozy eggs and buttery sauce. But you can make nice, absorbent corn muffins or biscuits fast from scratch; if you were feeling particularly extravagant, you could use puff pastry instead. For the Reuben, though, rye bread is key against the corned beef and Swiss.

Regina Schrambling, a New York food writer who blogs and tweets as Gastropoda, is a contributing writer to The Washington Post.

Mushroom Benedict

Savory and rich-tasting, this makes a good breakfast-for-dinner candidate. You'll need a small cup for transferring the eggs to the poaching water.

For the eggs:

Water

12 teaspoon cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

4 large eggs, as fresh as possible, straight from the refrigerator

For the mushrooms and sauce:

Water

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 medium-size or large shallot, minced (3 to 4 tablespoons)

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

14 to 12 teaspoon tamari, or to taste (may substitute low-sodium soy sauce)

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly squeezed juice of 12 small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

1 small sweet red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced (homemade or store-bought)

Salt, optional

For assembly:

2 English muffins, split, toasted and buttered

Chopped chives, for garnish, optional

To prepare the eggs: Line a wide bowl with a few layers of paper towels. Fill a saucepan or skillet with about 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, so the water is barely bubbling at the edges.

Working in batches as needed, gently break the eggs into individual teacups, custard cups or ramekins.

Use a spatula or spoon to swirl the water a few times. Hold the side of the egg container as close as possible to the surface of the water and slide each egg in. Use the spatula or spoon to “shape” the white around the yolk as needed. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the lined bowl.

Trim off any “threads,” if necessary, before serving.

To prepare the mushrooms and sauce: Fill a medium-size saucepan with a few inches of water, and heat over medium heat or until the water is barely bubbling at the edges. Adjust the heat to medium-low if needed. Place a metal bowl on the saucepan (to create a double boiler).

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is just translucent, then increase the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms, stirring to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the mushrooms release their moisture and brown. Stir in the tamari, then season with black pepper to taste.

Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over low heat.

Combine the lemon juice and egg yolk in the metal bowl and whisk to blend. Set over the simmering water and continue whisking until the eggs start to set. Remove from the heat and whisk in the melted butter, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the sauce emulsifies. Stir in the roasted pepper bits. Season with salt if needed and hold in a warm spot. The yield is about 13 cup.

To assemble: Lay the toasted, buttered English muffin halves on warmed plates and top with the shiitake mixture. Place a poached egg on each muffin half, then spoon the pepper hollandaise over each portion. Garnish with chives, if desired. Serve right away.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 740 calories, 56 grams fat (31 grams saturated), 640 milligrams cholesterol, 23 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams dietary fiber, 590 milligrams sodium

Chorizo Benedict

Simply using lime juice instead of lemon juice in the hollandaise sauce brings the flavors of this Mexican-inspired dish together.

You'll need four 6- or 8-ounce custard cups or ramekins for baking the muffins, and a small cup for transferring the eggs to the poaching water. The diced chorizo can be warmed in a skillet over medium-low heat (or over medium heat to create crisped edges).

The muffins can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

For the muffin base:

7 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, divided

12 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

14 cup flour

12 teaspoon baking powder

12 teaspoon baking soda

12 teaspoon kosher salt

12 cup cooked corn kernels, optional

6 tablespoons regular or low-fat sour cream

1 large egg

For the eggs:

Water

12 teaspoon cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

8 large eggs, as fresh as possible, straight from the refrigerator

For the sauce:

Water

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

Freshly squeezed juice of 12 large lime (2 teaspoons)

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

Kosher salt

For assembly:

8 to 12 ounces (2 links) cured, cooked chorizo, cut into medium dice, warmed (see headnote)

Chopped cilantro, for garnish

To prepare the muffin base: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place 4 custard cups or ramekins (6 to 8 ounces each) on a baking sheet.

Use a little of the melted butter to grease the inside of the cups or ramekins.

Use a fork to combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and corn kernels, if desired, in a mixing bowl. Stir together the remaining melted butter with the sour cream and egg in a measuring cup. Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the cornmeal mixture to form a thick batter. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups or ramekins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm and browned.

To prepare the eggs: Line a wide bowl with a few layers of paper towels. Fill a saucepan or skillet with about 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, so the water is barely bubbling at the edges.

Working in batches as needed, gently break the eggs into individual teacups, custard cups or ramekins.

Working with 1 egg at a time, use a spatula or spoon to swirl the water a few times. Hold the side of the egg container as close as possible to the surface of the water and slide each egg in. Use the spatula or spoon to “shape” the white around the yolk as needed. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the lined bowl. Repeat to poach the remaining eggs.

Trim off any “threads,” if necessary, before serving.

To prepare the sauce: Fill a medium-size saucepan with a few inches of water, and heat over medium heat or until the water is barely bubbling at the edges. Adjust the heat to medium-low if needed. Place a metal bowl on the saucepan (to create a double boiler).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet or saucepan over low heat.

Combine the lime juice and egg yolks in the metal bowl, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the melted butter, a tablespoon or so at a time, to form an emulsified sauce. Season with salt, and hold in a warm spot. The yield is about 12 cup.

To assemble: Cut the corn muffins in half horizontally, placing two halves cut sides up on each plate. Divide the warmed chorizo evenly over the muffin halves, then place a poached egg on the chorizo. Spoon the sauce over each portion, then sprinkle with the cilantro, if desired. Serve right away.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (using low-fat sour cream): 940 calories, 80 grams fat (41 grams saturated), 749 milligrams cholesterol, 32 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 1,410 milligrams sodium

Reuben Benedict

The recipe doubles easily. Do not use a microwave to heat the corned beef; instead, place the slices in a small, nonstick skillet, perhaps with a little chicken broth; cover and gently steam until thoroughly warmed through. You'll need a small cup for transferring the eggs to the poaching water. Don't skip the cornichons; they counter the richness.

For the eggs:

Water

12 teaspoon cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

4 large eggs, as fresh as possible, straight from the refrigerator

For the sauce:

Water

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon ketchup

12 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

14 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon pickle relish

Freshly squeezed juice from 12 medium-size lemon (1 12 tablespoons)

12 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

Salt

For assembly:

4 slices rye bread, toasted

6 ounces sliced, lean corned beef, heated (see headnote)

4 slices Swiss cheese (4 ounces total)

Cornichons, for garnish

To prepare the eggs: Line a wide bowl with a few layers of paper towels. Fill a saucepan or skillet with about 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, so the water is barely bubbling at the edges.

Working in batches as needed, gently break the eggs into individual teacups, custard cups or ramekins.

Use a spatula or spoon to swirl the water a few times. Hold the side of the egg container as close as possible to the surface of the water and slide each egg in. Use the spatula or spoon to “shape” the white around the yolk as needed. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the lined bowl.

Trim off any “threads,” if necessary, before serving.

To prepare the sauce: Fill a medium-size saucepan with a few inches of water, and heat over medium heat or until the water is barely bubbling at the edges. Adjust the heat to medium-low if needed. Place a metal bowl on the saucepan (to create a double boiler).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet or saucepan over low heat. Whisk together the ketchup, Sriracha, Worcestershire and pickle relish in a small bowl.

Combine the lemon juice, mustard and egg yolk in the metal bowl, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the melted butter, a tablespoon or so at a time, to form an emulsified sauce. Whisk in the ketchup mixture. Season with salt, and hold in a warm spot. The yield is about 12 cup.

To assemble: Divide the toasted bread between two warmed serving plates. Top with the warmed corned beef, then the cheese. Arrange the poached eggs on top. Ladle the sauce over the eggs; garnish with the cornichons. Serve right away.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 1,000 calories, 72 grams fat (37 grams saturated), 702 milligrams cholesterol, 48 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams dietary fiber, 2,050 milligrams sodium

 

 
 


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