The Original Duck Eggs Benedict

Posted by johngl

Back in 1942, a retired Wall Street stock broker, Lemuel Benedict, stated that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and ordered “”buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and a hooker of hollandaise”  (I think hooker had a different meaning in 1894).  He further claimed that Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d’hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham and a toasted English muffin for the bacon and toast.

Whether this is true is up for debate, but this morning, I put my own spin on it:

Duck Eggs Atop Toast Rounds, Crispy Applewood-Smoked Bacon, and Duck-Yolk Hollandaise
Duck Eggs atop Toast Rounds and Crispy Bacon Smothered in Duck Yolk Hollandaise

Begin by getting the prep work out of the way.  First, get the poaching liquid ready.  It is a couple of quarts of water, a teaspoon of salt, and a splash of white vinegar.  We want to get this up to a simmer:

boring picture

The picture is quite boring.  However, its here to illustrate that you want deep water for poaching eggs.  It helps to keep the whites together.

Now, get your duck eggs in a couple of a rows:

duck eggs in a row

Notice the clarity of the whites?  The albumen in duck eggs isn’t as cloudy as chicken eggs.

Also, separate a couple of duck yolks for the hollandaise.

yolks for hollandaise

Also prepare the flavoring agents for the hollandaise:

flavoring agents

This is key lime juice, a splash of blood orange juice, some piquin powder for heat, salt, and some fresh ground white pepper.  It gets whisked into the hollandaise right before you serve it.

Poaching eggs and making hollandaise doesn’t take long. It is roughly four minutes from dropping the eggs into the water until you are plating.  You should really have everything ready in advance.  This includes the bacon:


And the toast:

toast rounds

Cutting the toast into rounds is a snap with a ring cookie cutter.  It makes the dish more presentable.  Place these toasts on the plate:

toasts on plate

Apply the bacon.  Note that the bacon has been cut to size:

bacon and toast is ready

Now, in a big bowl, vigorously whisk the separated duck yolks with about a tablespoonful of ice-cold water to establish an emulsion.  Then, get about a stick of butter melting:

melting butter

Carefully pour your eggs, one at a time, into the pot of water:

eggs poaching

Place the large bowl of hollandaise yolk emulsion over the poaching egg pot and keep whisking.  The yolks will get a little air mixed in and increase in volume.  Once the whipped yolks are warmed through (not hot), pull them off the heat and slowly add the melted butter whilst you continue to whisk.  Sorry there are no photos, but whisking and pouring requires both hands and I haven’t yet figured out how to hold the camera with my teeth and also snap a picture.

Add in the hollandaise flavorings and take the bowl over to the poaching eggs again.  Put the bowl over the pot and whisk until the hollandaise is warmed through again.  Do not get this too hot or the eggs and fats will separate!

Set the hollandaise aside and using a slotted spoon, dip the eggs out of the water and let them drain a bit.  Put the eggs atop the toast and bacon:

poached eggs on toast

Spoon the hollandaise over the eggs:

hollandaise over the eggs

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Your breakfast is ready!

The richness of duck eggs

Just look at the brilliant color of the duck yolk.  You can almost see the richness.

While Mr. Benedict didn’t specify duck eggs, he should have, especially since he was at the Waldorf.  He didn’t know what he was missing!

Have a great weekend!

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About johngl

A bit of a wildman, John hails from the Midwest: A land of corn, cows, pigs, and a host of other healthfully meaty pursuits.

Born on a dark and stormy night in late Fall, John grew up as the son of a meat cutter. There was always plenty of meat at hand. While not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, his family certainly ate well. According to his father, that was the whole point.