Brunch. Ahhhhhhh, brunch! It’s the little things in life that make my stomach smile and brunch makes that smile stretch just a little bit wider. Like perfectly poached eggs on a sunny afternoon or a hot, strong cup of coffee…well, anytime of the day. This is my idea of heaven. Heaven I tell you!
Springtime is filled with lots of celebratory occasions from Easter to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day and I like to take full advantage of these opportunities to break out the fine china and snazzy linens and start cracking open the eggs.
Since eggs benedict is the epitome of all breakfast dishes – and one of my favorites – I thought I’d share with you a slight spin on the classic. Traditionally, the poached egg tops Canadian bacon and an English muffin before getting drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce. Here I have substituted shaved ham for the bacon and a crispy polenta cake for the muffin. And, I will have to say — it is nothing short of sunny perfection.
Happy Spring y’all!
Eggs Benedict with Ham and Polenta Cakes
(*Make this ahead. It needs at least 2 hours to set, or you can make it the day before and let cool overnight).
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbs butter
In medium saucepan combine cornmeal, water and milk. Whisk together continuously while bringing to a simmer. Add a generous amount of salt, cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the cornmeal becomes thick, the liquid is all absorbed and the cornmeal is tender, whisking occasionally. Once cooked stir in the butter, check for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Pour into a buttered 8×8 pan and cover with plastic wrap (to avoid a crust from forming on top). Cool completely and refridgerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.
Once the polenta has set, slice the polenta into six squares (or if you have circle cutters, whatever shape you desire). Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet and sear the polenta cakes for about 5 minutes on each side, OR until they become nice and brown on each side. Serve warm.
- 6 eggs
- 1 tbs vinegar
First begin by heating up a medium-sized pot full of water to a simmer. You want the water to be hot and bubbles starting to form, but NOT boiling.
Next crack your eggs into an individual bowl or cup, so you are not cracking the egg directly into the water.
Once your water is hot enough, add the vinegar and with a large wooden or slotted spoon swirl the water in a circle making a circular whirlpool like effect. Slowly drop your egg into the water and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining eggs.
4 egg yolks
1 stick butter, melted
1 tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper
Place a metal bowl over top of a medium sauce pan filled with about an inch of water, creating a double boiler. Bring the water to just a simmer. Put the egg yolks in the bowl and whisk continuously until the yolks begin to thicken and they double in size (be careful not to get the yolks too hot or else they will curdle). Once the eggs have thickened, add the lemon juice and combine and then slowly drizzle the melted butter into the eggs while continuing to whisk. Whisk until the butter is completely incorporated and you have a thick, sauce-like consistancy. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat. If the sauce thickens up before you are ready to serve add a little water to thin it out.
When you are ready to serve, place the egg on top of the ham and polenta cake on the bottom. Top with hollandaise sauce and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.