Lemony Eggs Florentine
An elegant breakfast classic, eggs Benedict has a muddled history, but every story connects it to society’s upper crust. Many tasty variations exist, each embellishing the unassuming poached egg on a muffin with luxurious hollandaise sauce and other ingredients, such as crisp bacon paired with sautéed spinach, as in this version.
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and ground white pepper
- 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 lbs. spinach
- 3 Tbs. finely chopped shallots
- 8 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, halved crosswise
- 4 English muffins, split
- 8 poached eggs (see recipe at left)
To make the hollandaise, in a blender, combine the egg yolks, 1 Tbs. water, the lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. white pepper. In a small saucepan, melt the 1 cup butter over medium heat. With the blender running, slowly add the warm melted butter through the vent in the lid, processing until the sauce is thick and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more water to thin it. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and set aside.
Stem the spinach, rinse well but do not dry, and coarsely chop. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach, cover and cook until the spinach is tender, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Drain the spinach mixture in a sieve, pressing gently to remove excess liquid. Return to the pan, cover and set aside.
In a large frying pan, fry the bacon over medium heat, turning once, until crisp and browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Meanwhile, preheat a broiler. Place the muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil until toasted, about 1 minute. Poach the eggs and keep them warm in hot water as directed.
To serve, place 2 toasted muffin halves, cut sides up, on each plate. Top the 2 halves with one-fourth of the spinach and 4 pieces of bacon. One at a time, using a slotted spoon, remove the poached eggs from the hot water, resting the bottom of the spoon briefly on a clean kitchen towel to blot excess moisture, and perch 2 eggs on each serving of bacon. Spoon about 3 Tbs. of the hollandaise over each pair of eggs. Serve at once, passing the remaining hollandaise on the side. Serves 4.
Variation: For classic eggs Benedict, substitute sautéed slices of Canadian bacon or ham for the spinach and bacon. For eggs Monterey, top the muffins with crabmeat, briefly sautéed in butter, in place of the spinach and bacon. And for eggs Blackstone, swap the spinach for tomato slices.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009)