A Variation on Eggs Benedict and a curious side dish

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A Variation on Eggs Benedict and a curious side dish

Post by drmoss_ca » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:02 am

This one is winning some accolades in the household, and seems to be worth spreading around. There are all sorts of variations on the original Egg Benedict, but this goes a step further. The side dish is nice enough to consider using in other situations too.

Smoked Salmon and Rosti Eggs Benedict
2 large potatoes
3 TBSP butter
2-3 TBSP milk
salt and pepper
4 Eggs
Smoked salmon, four slices
Hollandaise Sauce mix, needs some butter and milk (Yay! Cheating!)

Rosti is a Swiss dish, where grated potatoes are fried into cakes, and we shall use those fried potato cakes instead of toasted English muffins. There's argument about whether to grate them raw, or parboil them and then grate them. Some people leave them for a day in the fridge, occasionally sprinkled with salt to draw out water. I've made them both ways, and this seems to work the best to me. So, to begin - pick a couple of large potatoes. Wash them if still covered in soil, but do not peel. Cut them in half, but not into small pieces, and drop into boiling water for ten minutes only. Pour off the boiling water and add cold water and let them cool. When cold, the skins should peel off with just a little pressure of thumb and fingers. Using the coarse side of a grater, grate them into a bowl and put aside until ready to cook. There are several things to juggle here, but when you think it is time, put a good chunk (~3 TBSP) butter in a non-stick frying pan and melt it on high heat. Add the potatoes and press them into a cake that fills the pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of whole milk drizzled over it, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Cover with a lid and cook on med-high heat for 20 minutes, without stirring or looking. After that, use a plate to cover the pan, invert it so the half-cooked potato cake falls out. Then slide it off the plate back into the pan so the other side can cook, which is likely to be another 15 minutes. For those who care, we are cooking the parboiled shreds of potato the rest of the way with steam released from those shreds that are in contact with the frying pan, while also browning and making the bits in contact with the pan a bit crunchy. This is a nice problem, lots of heat gives the crunch, but may not give enough time for the middle to steam cook. Less heat and longer time might allow the middle to cook, but the outside isn't crunchy. A further constraint is that we want the middle of the cake to be cooked, but to retain some texture rather than becoming homogeneous potato mush. I am afraid exact times will depend on your pan, your stove, and the strain of potato used. Worse still, you have to make Hollandaise sauce and poach eggs while all this is going on! When all is ready, cut the rosti into quarters and serve.

On top of the rosti will go some smoked salmon, and I don't need to say a thing about that. But on top of the smoked salmon goes one or two poached eggs, and they are an art unto themselves. A poached egg is an egg boiled without a shell, and it is also a guaranteed disaster unless you know exactly what you are doing. Yes, you can buy an egg-poacher, but you don't get a poached egg from those; you get an egg fried in a hemispherical container. We want the real thing, which is an egg uncontaminated with oil or butter, the only fat being that which is in the yolk. The difficulty comes with adding the egg to boiling water without it all fragmenting into tiny bits of coagulated protein. Most people know that acid speeds coagulation, and vinegar (say, 3 TBSP) is added to the water for this. My technique goes like this: You need a depth of 3" of boiling water, in a pan big enough that all the eggs have their own (safe) space. Boil it. Take it off the heat to add the eggs as there must be no agitation at this time. To add the eggs, they must be cracked into deeply cupped spoons in advance (cooking time is three minutes, so you can't be farting around cracking, pouring and introducing or the first egg will be cooked before the fourth has been cracked. Dip the spoon into the water, pause to let it heat, then sink it gently to the bottom of the pan, and gently tilt it so the egg, which we hope has a skin of coagulated albumen by this point, slides out into the bottom of the pan without fragmenting into strands and tendrils of coagulated egg white. Being gentle and deliberate is the key. Repeat for the other eggs. Put the pan back on the heat, but don't let it boil more than a few large lazy bubbles as vigorous bubbling will result in a pan full of tiny bits of egg white. You can do it, but you might want to practice. You can get deep cups that clip onto the side of the pan that simulate this process by coddling the egg, and the result will taste much the same as long as they are not oiled to prevent sticking. Sadly, it is the oil that makes it a fried egg, and there's a huge difference between the tase of a fried egg and a poached egg, so if you use such devices, be prepared to clean the stuck egg off the poaching cup. Better by far to learn how to let your eggs develop freely! (Good Lord, I never meant this have so many double entendres!) It is possible also to poach the eggs halfway in advance, keep them in the fridge until ready, and reheat them in boiling water. If you do this, you will have overcooked eggs, I promise. Yolks like bullets. Better try to organise yourself so that all parts reach their culmination simultaneously, since this is what most cooking is actually about - time discipline and planning ahead. So when your eggs have had three minutes in water that is kinda-rather-sorta-thinking-about-boiling (like the 'seven lazy goldfish' kind of boil used in China for making green tea), scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place on top of the smoked salmon. Then you pour on a couple of tablespoons of Hollandaise sauce. I can tell you how to make that sauce, but to be honest, if I am to have any hope at all that anyone will try to do this I am going to have to recommend cheating for this bit as there a lot of stuff to do at once, and to make it all happen so that everything comes together at the once in the end is a lot to ask. Buy a packet of Hollandaise sauce mix, melt some butter in a pan, whisk in the mix with a fork, and slowly add the recommended amount of milk, whisking all the while. If you go slowly, there will be no lumps. Put it back on the heat and keep stirring vigorously until thick, at which point you can take it off the heat, to be reheated now and then until everything else is ready.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Bacon
Four rashers bacon, or fake bacon equivalent
1 medium or half a large cabbage, chopped
One onion, chopped small
Two Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped coarsely
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 TBSP soy sauce
Mmmm—bacon! Got you already! This is easy, and fortunately not terribly time-sensitive. Cabbages come in all sorts of sizes, so the best I can say is to use a whole small green* cabbage, or half of a large one. You will need a large wok, with smoking hot oil in it. Chop up a few rashers of bacon, or a few slices of fake bacon if you have the impediment of a vegetarian spouse and fry them till a little crispy. Remove from the pan and reserve on some kitchen paper. Add the cabbage to the hot frying pan, chopped small and cook with frequent stirring until it wilts, taking about 10 minutes. At this point add a chopped onion, and a couple of peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. and 3 TBSP soy sauce. stir and cook for ten more minutes, then add back the fried bacon and it's ready to go.
*red cabbage? Go for it!

Advice on Timing
Obviously we are going to prepare whatever we can in advance. Parboil, cool, peel and grate the potatoes.The sweet and sour cabbage can be be made and finished before starting anything else. It's nice if the cabbage still has some crunch, but it does keep for the next day when it will be a bit less 'toothy'. So make that first and set to the side. Start the grated potatoes cooking. Have a pan of water boiled for the eggs. Make the sauce and take it off the heat: it can go back onto a ring and be stirred a few times whenever the chance arises during the rest of the process. Once the cabbage is cooked and waiting, the rosti is cooked and waiting, the sauce is cooked and waiting, then add the eggs to the boiled water and cook them. Don't forget to heat the plates upon which this will all be served.
Frankly, more than one pair of hands would be helpful with this dish. Asking your partner to stir the sauce, the cabbage in its wok, to heat the plates etc etc can make it much more practicable, and it always wins brownie points when you accept help from someone.

And When to Serve?
Eggs Benedict are definitely a breakfast dish. Cabbage? Not so much. I suspect the best possible answer is to serve this as a brunch. Should you have cast aside all expectations about which foods when, you can have it for dinner too.

The combination of potatoes, fried to crunchy perfection on the outside and steamed on the inside, with smoked salmon, poached egg and buttery Hollandaise Sauce, along with smoky cabbage, apple and bacon is rather good. You can make the cabbage side dish a time or two and serve it in other settings. You can make rosti a few times until you feel comfy with it. Most of all, you can practice poaching eggs until it is something you can do with one hand tied behind your back. Once you have all those ducks all lined up, go for it and make the brunch of kings!
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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Re: A Variation on Eggs Benedict and a curious side dish

Post by ShadowsDad » Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:31 pm

Interesting read. Interesting variation and I like that. Sure, Rosti would work fine. I can see it being a keeper variation, as well as the salmon. I always wring my potato shreds out something like a tourniquet applied far too tightly, but held in fabric; same way I get the water out of farmers cheese. (salivating)

I can't imagine sweet&sour cabbage for brunch, but why am I salivating so much right now at the mere thought? :-)

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