June 14, 2012

Eggs Benedict: A Short History



Egg Benedict, dish consisting of a split, toasted English muffin, topped with poached eggs, slices of Canadian bacon and Hollandaise Sauce is a dish of questionable origin. It supposedly dates back to the 1860. Delmonico’s Restaurant, opened in 1827 in New York City is credited with its creation when Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, a regular patron, was bored of the selection and wanted something new. Charles Ranhofer, the chef at Delmonico’s presented her with “Eufa a' la Benedick” An “English” bread with a “Canadian” meat and a “Dutch” sauce with a French name? Sounds just like something a chef would serve a worldly client, tongue-in-cheek.

At least that’s one version of the origin. Another version of the origin of the dish, published in 1942, claims that a Wall Street broker named Lemuel Benedict drunkenly ordered the invention in 1894 from the Waldorf Hotel. Regardless of the origin, the dish became very popular in the 1890s and has continued to be a staple on restaurant menus ever since.


Eggs and toast have been pared together for hundred of years. What makes Eggs Benedict special is the addition of the sauce and slice of ham. “Hollandaise sauce” is the term that has been used since the turn of the 20th century but the sauce has been used for centuries as “Dutch sauce.” The first recipe was published in a Dutch cookbook in 1593. Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk, butter and lemon juice. It is neat because as an emulsion, the ingredients normally repel each other. Today we typically only associate Hollandaise sauce with Eggs Benedict and asparagus, but it used to serve a variety of dishes.


Eggs Benedict was made at my request for my birthday breakfast. :) We cheated and used a packaged sauce because supermarket eggs have to be cooked at a low temperature for a long time to kill the bacteria. If you wish to make your own, there's a recipe here at the Food Network.  

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the history lesson on such a tasty topic, Stephanie! :) I looked up Eggs Benedict after seeing this and found a delicious-looking image of a different version of the meal:

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flickr_sekimura_2390523527--Smoked_salmon_eggs_Benedict.jpg

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    1. Good photo! We actually made ours with imitation meat so the colors are a little off. :)

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  2. Mmm, that was such a yummy breakfast. :D I'm glad we made that.

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