Jacob’s take on Eggs Benedict
When I was trying to think of something to make for my mother for brunch on Mother’s Day last week, I dusted off this one that I came up with about eight years ago. The inspiration had to do with a confluence of excellent circumstances. Lisa and I had just married, in Montreal. My brother Daniel, who flew in from London to be my best man, had showed up with a large tin of caviar that he picked from Caviar House & Prunier at Heathrow. So after the whirlwind of festivities and socialising, Lisa and I found ourselves back in Toronto, just the two of us in a quiet house. I wanted to make a nice brunch in bed, with a little champers on the side, checked out the fridge – and, presto – what I had to do came together in an instant.
Some classic dishes cannot be improved upon but Eggs Benedict is not one of them. I always thought English muffins were bland and chewy, so swapping them for the lighter and more refined toasted brioche is a no-brainer. Swapping boring back bacon for succulent, tender butter-poached lobster is clearly a step up. The hollandaise and caviar go beautifully together, and the grated lobster row adds a lovely accent of flavour and saltiness. It’s all so obvious that even as I put together for the first time, I figured it had all been invented before, probably countless times. But the thing is you will never see it in a restaurant – outside of, say, Dubai, or Moscow – because nobody anywhere else wants to pay $140 for a plate of eggs. And that’s what a restaurant would have to charge for the dish. So go ahead: make it at home. My wife loved it. So did my Mum. So will yours.
Recipe for Oeufs Lisa
This for me is the ultimate egg dish for brunch in bed à deux. If you are disinclined to spring for the caviar you should provide some other salty counterpoint to the sweet, butter-poached lobster. A layer of oven-crisped paper thin pancetta tucked between lobster and brioche will do in a pinch.
For the lobster
1 small lobster, about 1 ¼ lb (625 g)
¼ cup white vinegar
1 lb cold butter, cubed
For the hollandaise
2 egg yolks
½ lb cold butter, cubed
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt, white pepper
For the eggs
2 Tbsp white vinegar 2
4 slices pain brioche (brioche loaf)*, toasted
1 oz finest quality caviar
1 tsp minced chives
Make ahead: Combine the vinegar with about ten cups (2.5 L) of cold water, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Add the lobster and cover. Steep for 1 minute. Remove lobster from pot, break off its claws, and return them to the pot for another 3 minutes. Twist the tail from the body, remove the tail meat from its shell, clean, rinse, and set aside to drain on paper towels. Remove meat from claws and knuckles. Cover lobster meat and refrigerate until needed. Reserve carcass and shells for another purpose. If the lobster is female, transfer egg sacs to a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and cook in an over preheated to 350°F for about 5 minutes – until eggs are red and firm. Set them aside to cool.
Prepare the beurre monté: heat a deep saucepan on medium, add 1 Tbsp (15 mL)of water, and then incorporate the butter one cube at a time, allowing each to emulsify completely before adding another. Keep warm, maintaining a temperature between 160 and 180°F (70-83°C) so as to preserve the emulsion.
Prepare the hollandaise: in a stainless steel mixing bowl thoroughly whisk together the egg yolks and 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of cold water. Place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and the whisk leaves behind streaks in the mixture. Then begin whisking the butter one cube at a time. Add lemon juice to taste, adjust seasonings and keep warm.
To finish: For the eggs, bring water and vinegar to a boil in a sauté pan. Cut lobster into but sized pieces and add to the beurre monté, submerging it completely. Swiftly add shelled eggs one at a time to the vinegared water and poach for 3 minutes. Toast the broche (and butter if desired). Remove eggs to drain on paper towels. Divide toasted brioche between two warmed plates. Use a slotted spoon to remove lobster from the butter and arrange it on the four slices of toast. Top each mound off lobster with a poached egg, a generous spoonful of hollandaise. If you have cooked lobster roe, grate it over the eggs with a micro plane. Finish each egg with a large quenelle of caviar and a sprinkling of chive. Enjoy at once.