Eggs Benny is one of my favourite brunch dishes; something that I will almost always put on my shortlist if I’m out with friends on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain says about ordering something with hollandaise at a restaurant – in my mind (and in my mouth) I’m salivating at the promise of that creamy, buttery goodness mingling with a delightfully runny yolk, and something starchy, be it a croissant, a biscuit, or some hash, to sop up the whole decadent mess. At home, I make it less often – hollandaise takes a bit of elbow grease to make (unless you use the blender method) and doesn’t keep very well.
Last week, my mother voiced her desire for lobster. We often do lobster for dinner on special occasions, steaming or boiling them whole, and then sitting down one on one with our crustacean meals and tearing into them like hungry savages. Okay, maybe not quite like savages, but by the end of our meal the emptied crimson armour piled high on our plates do look a bit like the aftermath on a battlefield. (I’ll admit that I’ve been watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, and perhaps my imagination is a little vivid right now!)
So of course, I thought that lobster eggs benedict would be a wonderfully apropos main course for Mother’s Day brunch, and proceeded to plot out the components of the dish. A cheddar chive biscuit would be the starchy anchor, topped with the meat from half of a steamed lobster, a poached egg, some perfectly unctuous hollandaise, and a handful of velvety, nutty sunflower sprouts to finish it off. The result? Pure gluttonous decadence that made my mother (and the rest of the family!) very happy.
Lobster Eggs Benedict on Cheddar Chive Biscuits
Cheddar Chive Biscuits
(adapted from Canadian Living)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 3/4 cups coarsely grated extra-old cheddar cheese
3 tbsp finely chopped chives
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and pepper.
Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into dry ingredients until it resembles a fine crumb.
Mix in cheddar and chives with a fork, then add milk 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is moistened enough that it adheres to itself.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, so that the dough becomes smooth but is not overworked.
Roll out to a 3/4″ thickness, and cut into 6 pieces with a 2 3/4 – 3″ round cutter or pastry ring, pressing the scraps together as needed.
Bake for 16-18 minutes on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet, until tops begin to turn golden.
3 x 1-1.5 lb lobster (1/2 lobster per person)
Put a steaming rack in the bottom of a large pot. Fill the pot with water just until the water reaches the top of the steaming rack, then add 5 peppercorns, a bay leaf, a pinch of salt, a halved clove of garlic and a halved shallot. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to boil, then steam the lobsters two at a time for 16 minutes. Remove from pot and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then crack shells and remove the meat.
6 large or extra large eggs (1 per person)
There are a few tricks to poaching eggs.
1) Add vinegar to your water – this will help the egg whites to adhere.
2) Use the freshest eggs possible – if your eggs are not fresh, not only do you risk bacteria growth, but your eggs won’t stay together as well.
3) Crack each egg into a small mesh strainer first to discard the watery part, then drop the egg from the strainer into the pot – this will enable you to dump the egg quickly into the pot so that it stays together.
These tips may make it sound as though poaching eggs is difficult but please don’t be afraid; it’s actually quite easy! Chow.com has a good video tutorial on poaching eggs, which I’ve posted below. The only thing I’d disagree with is the cooking time – I’m pretty sure I cooked my eggs for a much shorter period of time than three minutes because I just love runny yolks, and time will depend on how well you like your eggs done.
Just as in my Easter dinner post, I used Julia Child’s recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I’ve also found a similar version of her recipe here, although the recipe in my book uses more butter.
Slice biscuits in half.
Load up the bottom half with the meat from half of a lobster.
Top lobster with a poached egg.
Ladle hollandaise sauce over poached egg and lobster.
Mound a small bunch of sunflower sprouts on top.
Prop the top half of the biscuit against the side of the stack and serve.