Eggs Benedict is probably one of the most famous American breakfast dishes. And its popularity is not only limited to the states. Imagining a hotel breakfast menu in whichever country without Eggs Benedict is impossible, as well as many brunch places have included it into their daily offers. But where does this dish originally come from? Who was the inventor of it? If you are curious and want to find out more about the history and how to make Eggs Benedict, read on!
What Are Eggs Benedict?
Eggs Benedict is the perfect dish to have as a late or hungover breakfast. It combines savory and fatty components up to perfection, which is probably why its popularity has spread from the states to many other countries.
It consists of two halves of an English muffin, which are both topped with a poached egg, Canadian bacon and – the most important part –Hollandaise sauce.
Although there are differing stories about its origin, it is quite certain that this dish firstly became popular in the city of New York. This is why on of the most famous story of the invention of Eggs Benedict takes place in that American megacity:
The Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York – Home To The Savory Breakfast Dish?
According to the probably most common legend, it is the Delmonico’s Restaurant where Eggs Benedict originates from. This restaurant definitely is and has always been a symbol of fine dining in New York. It has even been the first real restaurant in the states. Until it opened in 1837, the concept of fine dining, already common in Europe, had been strange to the American population.
This establishment definitely was a trendsetter regarding many areas. It was the first one to use table cloths in the dining area and created many, still popular recipes. And, in the Delmonico’s Restaurant, women could dine on their own, without any male companion. This marked an unbelievable turn in social rules.
Of course, this chic and modern restaurant quickly became popular among the New York population and soon had a stable set of regular customers. In the 1860s, one of them was Mrs. LeGrand Benedict. She visited the restaurant that often, that after a while she got tired of the regular menu. So she wanted something new to eat. Reputedly, the chef, Charles Ranhofer created Eggs Benedict, for Mrs. LeGrand Benedict.
Ranhofer even published the recipe in his cookbook called The Epicurean, which came out in 1894. This definitely is the first written mention of Eggs Benedict, meaning, this story might not be too far-fetched.
Or Was The Recipe Passed By a Letter?
There is another common theory regarding the origin of Eggs Benedict. Just like the first one, it connects the dish to the City of New York and rests on a column in the New York Times Magazine, dated back to September 1967. In this column, the writer, Craig Claiborne, wrote about a letter he had received from Edward P. Montgomery. Montgomery, on the other hand, told Claiborne in the letter about a dish created by Commodore E.C. Benedict, a banker and yachtsman. This man, who had already died in 1920, also was not the inventor of the famous dish. But his mother was, at least according to the column, which connects unnecessary many names and also dates back less time than the story connected to the Delmonico’s Restaurant.
But who are we to judge? This simply is another legend on the history of Eggs Benedict, which even offers written proof in a magazine. But let’s move on and look at one more story about the origin of this famous breakfast dish:
Another Possible Birthplace of Eggs Benedict: The Waldorf Hotel
The Waldorf Hotel in New York definitely is one of the city’s most prestigious places to stay for a night. It is very popular among politicians and celebrities. The presidential suite at this hotel has even more than earned its name: It has hosted every president of the US since Herbert Hoover.
The story related to the Waldorf Hotel dates back to the same century as the first one, but takes place some years later. It stars Lemuel “Lemmy” Benedict, who derived from a wealthy family but was not really holding up the families ideals of noblesse. One morning, in the year 1894, he stumbled into the Waldorf Hotel, still drunk from the night before. Reputedly, he ordered a savory breakfast and named all the ingredients which nowadays make a good Eggs Benedict, except he asked for toast except of the muffin and regular bacon instead of Canadian one.
According to the legend, the maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirsky, changed the recipe to the one we know today. And soon, the dish became a staple on the menu of the hotel.
Once again, there are different versions and legends about the origin of a famous dish. But, at least it got clear, that the history of Eggs Benedict roots in New York and that it has been enjoyed for at least 100 years.
How To Make Eggs Benedict
Now let’s get to the exciting part and talk about how to make this delicious breakfast dish yourself.
To make about 6 servings of Eggs Benedict, you will need the following ingredients:
- 6 eggs
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 6 English muffins, halved
- 6 slices Canadian Ham (or regular one, if you can’t find the Canadian ham! Another alternative is smoked salmon)
- 1-2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh chives
- 1 pack of Hollondaise sauce
Start with the poaching of the eggs. To do so, fill a large pan just over one third full of water, leave to boil and add the vinegar. Bring the water back to simmer and one by one, crack the eggs into a small bowl and gently tip into the simmering water. Depending on your skill level, you might have to do it in 2-3 batches. Poach for 2-3 minutes, then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process.
Heat the Hollandaise sauce in a small saucepan on medium heat.
While the sauce is heating, toast the muffin halves and spread with butter. Top the halves with ham and place an egg on top of each muffin. Spoon over some Hollandaise and sprinkle with chives. Serve with the other muffin half on the side and of course, enjoy your New York style breakfast!
This recipe was taken from BBCFood.
If you are looking for a nice drink to have with your Eggs Benedict, check out our blog post about Chai Tea.