Aren’t Sunday mornings the bomb? Snow softly falling outside, NFL games on in the afternoon, and you (being the smart cookie that you are) made sure to lay in supplies the day before so that you don’t have to go outside. Eggs Florentine is one of Dr. Fiance’s favorite brunch treats, and since she’s been gone in Canada for a week I wanted to make it for her now that she’s back. Whenever we order poached eggs for brunch in a restaurant I end up going with Eggs Benedict because I like the bacon, while she chooses Florentine because she likes the spinach. So rather than choose between the two, I ended up going with my own creation which I am calling Eggs Jonathan. Basically, it’s got the spinach from the Florentine PLUS the bacon from the Benedict. Dreamy!
Now, before I begin, I’m going to point out that this ostensibly simple dish has many separate parts and it wasn’t until I was knee deep in it that I realized I was going to have timing issues. Virtually every step takes just a few minutes to complete, but in order to plate and serve the dish, everything pretty much has to be finished at the same time. I did not accomplish this in any way shape or form, so if you attempt this dish make sure to give it some thought before you start. Also, if you want to try a simpler version of this dish, go with a more traditional Eggs Benedict and omit the spinach.
First, you have make your bacon. I chose to do this on a foil lined tray in the oven this time around, which yielded some really tasty and perfectly flat slices. Next I sautéed the spinach, while I was heating up the water to poach the eggs. I was also melting the butter for the hollandaise sauce. Don’t forget to put the English muffins in the toaster at this point too! All of these things take three minutes, meaning that the water was at the appropriate temperature to poach the eggs at the same time the spinach was on the verge of getting overcooked while the toaster was spitting my English muffins into the air like a cartoon and the butter was starting to burn…..omfg.
Deep breath. H’ok. Since I am not an experienced line cook with my timing down to a science I had to make do with things being slightly less than perfect. But, like most cooking adventures, as long as I stick with it and don’t panic too much, the results are delicious. In the end my execution of Eggs Jonathan was totally fine and tasty. My hollandaise was a few minutes too thick by the time I got to plate my dish, and the spinach was a little cooler than I would have likes, but seriously, a creamy gooey melty poached egg with bacon and butter sauce? I’d eat this thing stone cold and it would still be amazing.
Eggs Jonathan Recipe
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Large package of baby spinach
1 garlic clove, minced
2 English muffins, torn in half and toasted
8 Strips of crispy cooked bacon
4 eggs, poached
3/4 cup hollandaise sauce (see below)
Heat a large saute pan with the oil, then saute the spinach and the garlic until the spinach is uniformly wilted. Add two pieces of bacon to each half of an English muffin, top with spinach and then add the poached egg. Top with hollandaise sauce, see notes below. Makes four side servings or two main dishes for brunch.
If you have never made a hollandaise sauce before, it is basically eggs and melted butter that has been whipped into smooth, creamy awesomeness. If you do not have a copy already, go pick up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1by Julia Child for the full rundown of how to properly make and maintain a hollandaise sauce. My description below is brief and you will certainly benefit from the tips and tricks that Julia suggests. She also has step by step instructions for poaching eggs as well.
1 stick of butter
3 egg yolks
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
Pinch of black pepper
First, read Julia Child’s intensive primer on making hollandaise.Next, melt the butter in a saucepan until bubbling. Remove from heat. Pulse the yolks, lemon juice, salt and peppar in a blender for a couple of seconds. Then, with the blender on high, drizzle the butter in (it’s gonna splash a bit, be prepared). It is important to go slowly when adding your butter, especially at the beginning. Too much too fast will kill your sauce. If done properly the yolks should immediately begin to thicken. Add all of the butter except the white part that will sink to the bottom of your pan after melting. Check taste, add salt and peppar if necessary. Julia notes that hollandaise should be served warm, not hot. If done in a prompt manner, it should be at the perfect temperature by the time you have the butter incorporated into the egg yolks. Serve immediately.
After Action Report
I think the next time I try something like that I’m going to do it a little differently. The bacon plus spinach was a good idea, but the bacon kind of overwhelmed the spinach. I guess the greens offset the butter from a health standpoint but the flavor got lost. Removing that one step will also make it easier for me to get the timing down and use at least one less pan.
Next, I’m going to try one of the more commercial grade versions of hollandaise which has a longer life than the traditional. Even the traditional recipe that I used can be kept in better shape by letting it rest in warm water, but I was so frazzled that I couldn’t be bothered with yet another set of dishes. There are recipes for hollandaise made with a flour roux which I imagine makes it less rich but gives you more than a couple of minutes to serve it and will stay nicely creamy and saucey longer.
I am still struggling with the appropriate temperature and technique for poaching eggs. I have wildly mixed results. Some explode into a mess of whites scattered around the pan, while others have good form but are overcooked. Perhaps I need to try using the biscuit cutters in the pan to keep them uniform? Of course my most beautiful egg was cooked after I’d already photographed my hero* plate and I was serving Dr. Fiance. That’s ok, she deserves the best!
All in all though, with the list of parts to this particular dish it is very difficult to go wrong. Bacon, butter, eggs … amazing!
*The “hero” is the term used in food photography for the final, most perfect piece of food constructed for the photograph. My cooking skills are still in their infancy, and so my eggs are not perfectly cooked and not every piece of spinach is properly aligned. Basically, I’m using the term “hero” kind of loosely. -JG