Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and breakfast in bed seems like a perfect romantic gift. How about a twist on a classic: a pastrami Eggs Benedict set atop rounds of hashbrowns?
Eggs Benedict is such a classic brunch/breakfast food. The traditional is a base of english muffin, topped with Canadian bacon and a poached egg. There are, now, however, so many versions out there that the classic almost seems dull. There is the ubiquitous florentine version that replaces the ham with sautéed spinach. One of my favorite of this type was one I once had with risotto cakes as the base instead of the english muffin. Another favorite was a southern version with english muffin topped with a small breaded fried chicken breast and capped off with the poached egg and chicken gravy. The variations are endless!
Breakfast in bed is a pure indulgence, and eggs Benedict in bed, of any variety, has to rank up there as a perfect menu item. I think it has a romantic quality too, because the maker has gone to some effort to present a beautifully considered offering. It is a sign of love to bring a beautiful meal to someone, while at the same time absolving them of the work involved.
This holiday marks the final holiday to have occurred during the pandemic and the accompanying quarantine rules and habits we have found ourselves partaking in. All the other holidays of the year have been equally dampened, or required a little creativity to make special in dispiriting times. What a year it has been!
Here is one way to spoil someone you love. But, breakfast in bed can also be a fun way to include the family or surprise a roommate. Being at home with the same people has the potential to make us take each other for granted. It might be nice to shake things up once in a while. I have been “stuck” with my daughter, one of many who had to return home to do college online. It has actually been a joy to have a little more time with her, when I thought that part of our lives was over.
She is the one who came up with this version of Benedict a number of years ago. She rummaged around the kitchen, looking for something different to make for breakfast and found these ingredients. It is important to know that she is an expert hollandaise maker. It is equally important to know that she doesn’t really a cook. She just has a few really good tricks up here sleeve, and hollandaise is one of them. So, this recipe is named for her.
There are no special ingredients needed- frozen hashbrowns, deli-sliced pastrami, eggs, butter and lemons are all you need.
To make the hashbrown rounds, it is helpful to have a round heat proof mold. You could use an egg ring or a metal ring designed for making those pretty stacked foods once so popular in fancy restaurants. I used tart rings.
If you don’t have any of these things, don’t worry, you can simply pile the hashrowns into a mound and as they cook, sort of form them into a round shape. It really doesn’t have to be perfect.
On a griddle or in a pan set over medium low heat, melt some butter and vegetable or canola oil. Place your rings on the griddle or skillet and pack frozen hashbrowns into the ring. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let cook at a really low and slow pace until the bottoms are golden brown.
Flip them (remove the rings at this point) and brown the other side. As you can see I used a knife along with a spatula to make flipping easier.
Set them in a warm oven of 170° to keep warm. Now is a time to take slices of the pastrami and place them in the warming oven with the hashbrown rounds to get them nice and warm as well.
For the hollandaise you need two egg yolks in a heat proof bowl. But first, prepare your other ingredients so that they are near at hand. Juice a lemon and cut up a stick of butter into 1” pieces.
Set the bowl of egg yolks over a pan of hot water. Keep this pan on a low setting of the stove element so that it stays hot but does not boil.
Add some fresh squeezed lemon juice to the egg yolks and begin whisking them over the hot water bath until the mixture is warm to the touch.
Begin adding in butter, a small piece at a time, whisking each piece until it is fully incorporated before adding the next piece.
Continue on this manner until the sauce is thickened slightly. You may not use all the butter before you get to this stage. Remove from the heat and set aside while you make your eggs.
Instead of poaching eggs, which can be a bit time laden and not always successful, you should baste your eggs. This is a technique I came up with for quick poached eggs when you need to make more than one or two.
Begin as if frying your eggs, with some butter melted in a skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs into the pan. The number of eggs you can cook at one time will depend on the size of your skillet. I can get 4 in my 10” cast iron skillet. Begin cooking the eggs until the whites become opaque. Then add in enough hot water to come to the bottom of the yolks.
Turn your heat up and let the water come to a low boil, then return the heat to medium. With a tablespoon, begin spooning the hot water over the eggs.
When the yolks have become just opaque, they are ready! Turn off the heat and let them sit for a minute while you get everything else in place.
Back to your hollandaise for a moment. Return the bowl to the hot water pan, again on low heat, and whisk it a few times. Add in a little more lemon juice and a dash of cayenne pepper. If the mixture becomes too runny, simply whisk in another piece or two of butter until the right consistency is achieved. It really shouldn’t be gloopy thick, but it shouldn’t be so runny it runs off the egg either. The thickness of melted ice cream is about right.
Now let’s put it all together.
Start with the hashbrown rounds.
Then lay a few pieces of pastrami on top of those.
With a slotted spoon remove one egg for each round. Hold the egg briefly over the pan to drain a tiny bit before adding it to the plate.
Finally spoon a generous ladleful of hollandaise over each round.
Put it on a pretty plate, pair it with a cup of hot coffee and bring it to someone you love!
Jo’s Pastrami Benedict
- large skillet
- griddle (or large skillet)
- heat proof 3" food rings (optional)
- sauce pan
- heat proof bowl
- slotted spoon
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 2 cups frozen hashbrowns
- 1/4 lb pastrami sliced thin
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 lemon
- 8 tbsp butter
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 eggs
- Melt butter and oil on a griddle or in a skillet set over a medium low heat.
- Place the food rings directly onto the griddle or skillet and pack frozen hashbrowns into the rings. Alternatively, mound about 1/2 cup of hashbrown directly onto the griddle or skillet for each of 4 hashbrown rounds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Let cook, slowly, until golden on the bottom. If not using rings, form the potatoes into rounds as they cook by using a spatula to press down on the mound and gather in the sides to form a round shape.
- Remove the rings, if using. Flip the rounds and cook until the bottom is golden brown. Set aside on a plate in a warm oven (170°) until needed.
- Place pastrami on a plate in a fairly even layer. Some overlap is fine, but try not to pile the meat on the plate. Place in the warm oven with the hashbrown rounds.
- For the hollandaise, prepare the butter by cutting it into 1" pieces. Juice the lemon and set juice nearby.
- Place 2 egg yolks in a heat proof bowl set over a suacepan of hot but not boiling water, kept hot over a low temperature.
- Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the egg yolks and begin whisking constantly until the egg mixture is warm to the touch.
- Begin adding a piece of butter to the egg mixture and whisking it in until fully incorporated before add in the next one. Continue in this way until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Crack eggs into pan, as if for frying.
- When whites have become just opaque, add hot water along the side of the pan (do not por directly on the eggs) until it reaches the bottom of the yolks. Turn the heat up to medium high until water begins to bubble but not boil. Return heat to medium.
- With a regular table spoon, spoon hot water over the tops of the eggs until the yolk becomes just opaque. Turn off the heat and let eggs rest while you get everything together for assembly.
- Return the bowl of hollandiase to the saucepan of hot water. Stir, gently, with your whisk, a couple of times. Add 1 more teaspoon of lemon juice and the cayenne pepper.
- Whisk together, gently. If too runny, add in another piece of butter and whisk until thickened to the consistency of melted ice cream. If too thick add more lemon juice or a teaspoon of hot water to thin out. Remove from heat.
- Place two rounds of hashbrowns on a plate. Top each round with about a fourth of the pastrami.
- With a slotted spoon, remove an egg from the water and let drip a few seconds over the pan. Place on top of one round of hashbrown and pastrami. Repeat with another egg on the second round.
- Spoon a generous portion of hollandaise over the two stacks.
- Repeat with the remaining two hashbrown rounds, pastrmai, eggs and hollandaise for the second serving.