I believe classics exist in cooking for a reason. Like many works of art, when something strikes a chord with people, the chances of longevity are increased. There are films, operas and symphonies that have passed the test of time and still continue to please it's audience. Cuisine isn't much different. No doubt there are many recipes and dishes from 19th century France that were popular then, but over time fall into obscurity. Chaud-froid sauce is an example of a sauce that is rarely used these days. While others have actually increased in popularity.
Eggs Benedict isn't a classic french recipe (or maybe it is, the origin is in dispute). However, it uses a classic sauce in hollandaise. Which happens to be one of the five mother sauces.
I've recently taught this recipe in a few cooking schools and it seems that not many people make it. In fact, the people who had made hollandaise did not make it recently and had no intention of tackling it again. It appears the sauce may be used in restaurants but is taking a split from popularity at home.
It's not hard to understand why: it's very rich, high in fat, intimidating to make and, without a demonstration, can be incorrectly made. But don't let that stop you! Trust me. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few . . . well, eggs.
There is a drawback of the sauce and it is the shelf life. It should be kept at room temperature and not be either refridgerated or kept hot. Because of this, the sauce is kept right in the middle of the danger zone of bacteria growth. Unfortunately. You have about 2 hours to use it up and then it is discarded. So that means you have to eat it all up. If you want to gain weight, try dipping crispy bacon into it. Hangover cure.
This recipe is a variation on the Benedict with a very simple, yet common twist.
6 English Muffins, halved
1 Bag of Baby Spinach
1 Glove of Garlic
12 Whole Eggs
6 Egg Yolks
Splash of White Vinegar
Splash of White Wine
Juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 lb. Butter, clarified
Pinch of Cayenne
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Place sauce pan on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add wine to egg yolks and whisk well. Whisk over water back and forth until eggs triple in volume, about 6 - 8 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add butter while whisking. Add worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Hold at room temperature.
In a large frying pan, heat small amount of butter until hot. Add garlic and spinach and saute for 4 - 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
In sauce pan, add white vinegar and keep on simmer. Add eggs (6 at a time works for me) and poach to desired doneness. 3 - 4 minutes for soft yolks. Toast muffin and top with spinach, egg and coat with hollandaise.
Garnish with cayenne.
Variation: hmmmm, let me see, there's Eggs Benjammin with smoked salmon, red onion and capers, there's Eggs Neptune with lobster, there's Eggs Commander with Andouille sausage, recently created an Eggs Pope Benedict that I believe uses pumpernickel and Bratwurst sausage. I'm certain many breakfast joints have their own interpretation that only reinforces the idea that you can do whatever you like to the dish.
A Humble Chef's tip: you can poach the eggs then shock them in ice water if you have many people to serve. What I do is lay out the muffins on a baking sheet, untoasted, topped with cooled spinach, ice cold poached eggs and hollandaise. Then place in oven for 8 minutes at 350. Very simple.