One of my favorite brunch recipes is the classic Eggs Benedict. When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to make it every week as an early game day breakfast, since we had to watch football on Eastern Standard Time. Back then I only knew how to poach one egg at a time, so it made for a slow moving meal to serve a crowd. (Don't worry, I can now cook eggs at a much faster pace!) While Eggs Benedict topped with rich and tangy hollandaise sauce is a very delicious way to celebrate nothing in particular, using two sticks of butter for breakfast is not something I really need to do on a regular basis. This in addition to the fact that my fiancé has recently taken up a very strict diet and exercise routine, leaving me to one too many indulgent meals alone. These days if I want a dining partner, I have to conform to his more lean approach to food, so I decided to come up with a lightened up Eggs Benedict that we can both enjoy over coffee. While it's still not worthy of everyday status, I can at least enjoy it without feeling guilty about my tempestuous offerings to the better half. Instead of my usual recipe, I've subbed in a whole grain English muffin with turkey bacon instead of ham, and I added spinach and a tomato to up the nutritional value. The best part, though, is the "mock hollandaise." Using light mayonnaise, Dijon, lemon juice, and just a pat of butter, I managed to recreate the flavors of my homemade Hollandaise pretty darn close. The results were so delicious, I may never go back to the old way again!
Lighter Eggs Benedict with Mock Hollandaise
Serves 4 to 6For the base: 8 slices smoked turkey bacon 4 whole wheat English muffins, split in half 2 tablespoons butter, softened (optional) 2 teaspoons white vinegar 8 large eggs For the mock hollandaise: 1/2 cup light mayonnaise 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste 2 tablespoons unsalted butter Kosher salt and cayenne pepper, to taste To assemble: 2 cups spinach leaves 8 thick tomato slices, thoroughly dried Kosher salt and pepper, for garnish Paprika, for garnish Preheat to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon strips in a single layer. Cook on the middle rack for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the slices reach your desired crispness. (For Eggs Benedict, I like it a little less crispy than usual, so 20 minutes usually works for me.) Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and discard foil. Arrange the English muffin halves on a separate baking sheet. Cook until toasted and lightly golden, about 8-10 minutes. Spread with softened butter, if desired. Lower oven temp to 170° (or warming temperature). Hold English muffins and bacon until eggs are poached and ready to assemble. While the bacon is cooking, fill a medium to large saucepan with 1-1/2 to 2 inches of water and 2 teaspoons white vinegar. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low; water should maintain a few small occasional bubbles. Crack each egg into a small dish (I use a small sake glass), partially submerge the dish in the pan, and tip the egg into water. Cook until the whites are set and opaque, but yolks are still runny, about 2 minutes. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Trim any excess whites, if desired. Here is a tutorial on poaching eggs. (Note: Eggs can be poached ahead of time and the re-warmed in hot water just before serving.) To make the mock hollandaise, whisk the mayonnaise, Dijon, and lemon juice. Melt the butter and stir in quickly. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a generous amount of cayenne pepper. To assemble the Eggs Benedict, top each muffin half with a handful of spinach, followed by a tomato slice, a piece of bacon split in half, and a poached egg. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with additional salt, pepper, and paprika. Serve immediately.
Related: Breakfast Recipe: Eggs Florentine in Hash Brown Nests (Images: Nealey Dozier)