Definitions

eggs-benedict

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is a dish that consists of a half of an English muffin, topped with ham or bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce.

Origin

There are differing accounts as to the origin of eggs Benedict.

In an interview in the "Talk of the Town" column of The New Yorker in 1942, the year before his death, Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, claimed that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered "buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and a Hooker of hollandaise." Oscar Tschirky, the maître d'hôtel and legendary "Oscar of the Waldorf," was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham and a toasted English muffin for the bacon and toast.

Craig Claiborne, in September 1967, wrote a column in The New York Times Magazine about a letter he had received from Edward P. Montgomery, an American then residing in France. In it, Montgomery related that the dish was created by Commodore E.C. Benedict, a banker and yachtsman, who died in 1920 at the age of 86. Montgomery also included a recipe for eggs Benedict, stating that the recipe had been given to him by his mother, who had received it from her brother, who was a friend of the Commodore.

Mabel C. Butler of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts in a November 1967 letter printed in The New York Times Magazine responded to Montgomery's claim by correcting that the "true story, well known to the relations of Mrs. Le Grand Benedict", of whom she was one, was:

Mr. and Mrs. Benedict, when they lived in New York around the turn of the century, dined every Saturday at Delmonico's. One day Mrs. Benedict said to the maitre d' hotel, "Haven't you anything new or different to suggest?" On his reply that he would like to hear something from her, she suggested poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, hollandaise sauce and a truffle on top.

However, the most likely origin of the dish is suggested in Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, where she describes a traditional French dish named œufs bénédictine, consisting of brandade (a puree of refreshed salt cod and potatoes), spread on triangles of fried bread. A poached egg is then set on top and napped with hollandaise. Still, it is not clear how this dish would have migrated to America, where it became popular. The combination of cod and eggs suggests it was a Lenten or meatless dish, and the use of salt cod suggests it could be as old as the Renaissance, when salt cod became more plentiful.

Variations

Many variations on the traditional eggs Benedict are available in some restaurants or locations. With the exception of the Egg McMuffin, none of these are as widely known as eggs Benedict.

  • Seafood Benedict replaces the ham with crab and/or shrimp and/or lobster and/or baby scallops.
  • Eggs Blackstone substitutes streaky bacon for the ham and adds a tomato slice.
  • Eggs Florentine substitutes spinach for the ham. Older versions of eggs Florentine add spinach to poached or stirred eggs Mornay – eggs covered in Mornay sauce.
  • Eggs Hussarde substitutes Holland rusks for the English muffin and adds Marchand de Vin sauce.
  • Salmon Benedict (Also known as Eggs Pacifica, Eggs Montreal, Eggs Royal or Eggs Royale) replaces the bacon with smoked salmon.
  • Pacific Northwest Eggs Benedict Poached Egg over Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon on a Toasted English Muffin Covered with Hollandaise Sauce. Can also substitute Dungeness Crab Cakes for English Muffin.
  • Eggs Sardou substitutes artichoke bottoms and crossed anchovy fillets for the English muffin and ham, then tops the hollandaise sauce with chopped ham and a truffle slice. The dish was created at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans in honor of the French playwright Victorien Sardou. A more widespread version of the dish starts with a base of creamed spinach, substitutes artichoke bottoms for the English muffin, and drops the ham.
  • Artichoke Benedict replaces the English muffin with a hollowed artichoke.
  • Country Benedict sometimes known as Eggs Beauregard, replaces the English muffin, ham, and hollandaise sauce with a biscuit, sausage patties, and country gravy. The poached eggs are replaced with eggs fried to choice.
  • Irish Benedict replaces the ham with corned beef hash or Irish bacon.
  • Eggs Chesapeake replaces bacon with crabcake.
  • Dutch Benedict replaces the ham or bacon with scrapple. Popular in the eastern region of Pennsylvania.
  • Veggie Benedict replaces the bacon with avocado and tomato.
  • The McDonald's Egg McMuffin was created by Herb Peterson, a McDonald's franchisee, in 1972. As a friend of Ray Kroc's, he knew that Kroc liked eggs Benedict. Peterson sought to create a "poor man's version" by replacing the hollandaise with a slice of American cheese. To cook the eggs, Peterson paid a local blacksmith $90 to make a batch of Teflon coated rings. Mainly due to the success of the Egg McMuffin, McDonald's had a monopoly on the fast-food breakfast market until the mid-1980s.
  • Slices of toast may be used instead of the traditional English muffins.
  • Waffle Benedict replaces the English muffins with a full waffle. It is commonly topped with maple syrup in addition to the hollandaise.
  • Eggs Benedict Arnold replaces the English muffin with a biscuit and the hollandaise with country gravy, and also cooks the poached egg longer, so that the yolk is fully cooked.

Timeline of published references

Dates given refer to date of publication.

1898 — In Eggs, and how to use them, a recipe for eggs Benedict is given as "split and toast some small muffins; put on each a nice round slice of broiled ham, and on the ham the poached egg; pour over some Hollandaise sauce

1900 — In The Connecticut Magazine: an Illustrated Monthly, Volume VI, a recipe for eggs Benedict is given as "A third variety is called Eggs Benedict. Broil a thin slice of cold-boiled ham cut the size of a small baker's loaf; toast a slice of bread, butter it and moisten with a little water; lay the ham on it and on that a poached egg. Serve individually.

1907 — In Many Ways for Cooking Eggs, a recipe for eggs Benedict is given that starts with the muffins. Unlike yeast leavened English muffins, the recipe muffins use baking powder and beaten egg whites for leavening; however, they are still baked on a griddle in muffin rings. The remainder of the recipe reads "Broil thin slices of ham. Make a sauce Hollandaise. Chop a truffle. Poach the required number of eggs. Dish the muffins, put a square of ham on each, then a poached egg and cover each egg nicely with sauce Hollandaise. Dust with truffle and serve at once.

1914 — In the 1914 printing of the The Neighborhood Cook Book, a recipe for eggs Benedict is given as "Place a slightly fried piece of ham on a piece of toast, place poached egg on ham, and pour over all a Hollandaise sauce.

1918 — In the 1918 printing of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, a recipe for Eggs à la Benedict is given as "Split and toast English muffins. Sauté circular pieces of cold boiled ham, place these over the halves of muffins, arrange on each a dropped egg, and pour around Hollandaise Sauce II, diluted with cream to make of such consistency to pour easily.

1919 — In The Hotel St. Francis Cook Book, a recipe for eggs Benedict is given as "Cut an English muffin in two, toast, and put on platter. Put a slice of broiled ham on top of each half, a poached egg on top of the ham, cover all with Hollandaise, and lay a slice of truffle on top of the sauce.

1938 — An advertisement for Haill Hayden's Hollandaise — a bottled hollandaise sold in a 6 ounce jar for 50¢ — runs in The New York Times. "Here is a sauce such as no man has had before. On tasting it, great chefs have broken their egg-beaters over their knees and wept in jealousy! It is made of butter fragrant from timothy and alfalfa, eggs to which their mothers are still clucking at this hour, lemon and pungent spices! It is not profaned with a drop of oil or any substitutes. Serve it over cauliflower, artichokes, lettuce, eggs Benedict, fish, singing 'Broccoli, Broccoli,' as you eat".

1942 — In an interview in The New Yorker, Lemuel Benedict claims to have originated the dish with an order at the Waldorf Hotel, hoping for a hangover cure.

1960Elizabeth David publishes a work on French provincial cooking that describes an almost identical traditional dish named œufs bénédictine.

1967 — Craig Claiborne writes in The New York Times Magazine that Edward P. Montgomery wrote him a letter to say that eggs Benedict originated with Commodore E.C. Benedict.

1967 — In a letter printed in The New York Times Magazine, Mabel C. Butler responds to Montgomery's claim by stating that Mrs. Le Grand Benedict originated the dish with an order at Delmonico's.

Later editions of Charles Ranhofer’s cookbook The Epicurean contain a recipe for “Eggs à la Benedick”; however, the recipe is not present in the original 1894 edition. Save for a hiatus from 1876 to 1879, Charles Ranhofer was the chef at Delmonico's from 1862 till his retirement in 1896.

Notes

References

See also

External links

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