I have a soft spot for egg dishes with (fancy) sauces.
Eggs Benedict are a personal favorite of mine. Pretty much every variant of it too. Here in NYC, the original home of the dish, there’s countless variations to chose from in every ethnic variety, ironic twist and individual interpretation of it that some hardly resemble the original variety. Next to huevos rancheros it’s probably my most ordered egg dish when I’m out somewhere.
One of the biggest reasons why I enjoy Eggs Benedict is for the poached eggs. They are something I absolutely suck at making at home, and believe me I’ve been taught all the tricks by all types of chef-types. I’m just not meant to do it. For this recipe, the preference is you make a poached egg. But, if you can’t a sunny-side up egg will do just fine. My method is to use a form to keep the whites all together and reducing the exposure to the oil, although, I’ll then spoon some over the yolk to set it and give it a nice sheen.
More important to this entry is the sauce. The original idea was born by trying to get the last bit of ketchup from the container since I don’t like waste. I used some red wine vinegar and shook up the ketchup bottle to create a slurry. As anyone who’s ever been to a diner with me they know I will usually spike my ketchup with cracked black pepper (the coarser the better) and/or hot sauce. I added that to the slurry and heated. The result was captivating. I used it on meatloaf I think the first time as a baste for it but since then I’ve taken to doing crazy things with it (including bourbon-bootstrap molasses versions). The wonderful thing about this is the big vinegar flavor that comes from the sauce pairs so well with the thick, rich, creamy egg yolk to enrich the sauce’s flavor and texture. If you like your eggs well done, this might not be the best recipe for you unless you can replace that fattiness lost from the lack of a runny yolk. You’ll see how this version plays out when you taste it in balance.
An interesting note is that freezing tofu changes the texture. Along with the typical marinade process I usually employ to evoke rich flavor from it. You can reproduce the recipe without it in a pinch but it’s worth trying. Also, for the tofu, in order to give it that nod to sausage you’ll notice some typical, albeit mish-mashed sausage flavoring components.
Another note is the choice of bread where I use a nice rosemary ciabatta in this, the original version was borne out of a french baguette. Whatever bread you use cut the slices on a bias, not too thick, and grill or toast just one side lightly to give it a stiff texture leaving the opposing side soft to sop up the sauce and egg yolk as well as making cutting easier.
Finally, not to be snobby, but when you’re eating eggs for the sake of a having an egg you want to start with a good egg. All those cliche’d terms like cage free/free range, organic, farm fresh are probably the bare minimum to start.
I’ve broken the recipe into parts to make it easier to follow. At this point, you’re probably wondering the name of the dish … and empiler is a “stack” and this is exactly that, layers of different flavors and textures and the Nutley is derived from the originating town of its initial invention.
ground toasted cumin
ground caraway seed
ground fennel seed
dried onion flakes
coarse cracked black pepper
freezer safe holding vessel
cast iron pan
Cut the tofu into squares about the same size (‘height’) as the bread and eggs you’re expecting to work with, usually something around the area of a 2x2x0.5″ shape, press dry.
Combine all of the spices with the olive oil and mix thoroughly and then marinade the tofu in it for between 15-30 minutes
Freeze the tofu until solidified completely.
Allow tofu to thaw still in the marinade
Heat the cast iron to a fairly high temperature
Add the tofu to the pan with some of the oil based marinade
Allow the pan side to become encrusted
Add additional marinade to the pan and flip to the other side and do the same in crusting the outside.
You’re looking for a firm, crispy, golden exterior that gives underneath to a soft, interior similar to how a medium rare steak might feel to the touch.
grill pan or cast iron pan
Cut the bread on a long bias to ‘increase’ the surface area exposed about the same depth as the tofo and the egg.
Very lightly coat one side of the bread with the olive oil
Over high heat lightly toast one side of the bread
If you are poaching, you’ll want a pot of low simmering water to poach them in
If you are making sunny-side up you’ll want a cast iron or other fry pan to cook them in
Either way, make sure you season along the way!
Coarse ground cracked black pepper
Cast iron skillet
Over a low to medium heat combine the ketchup to the vinegar in about a 5:1 or so ratio as to create a slurry
Add the black pepper and then the siracha
Cook only until you bring it to the desired thickness. Readjust the flavor and consistency by adding ingredients as you presume necessary
Coarse ground mustard
Balsamic Ketchup sauce
Arrange your toast on the plate and liberally coat (as per personal preference) over the toasted side with the mustard
Cover with a handful of the spinach trying to contain the leaves only to the bread
Place the hot seared tofu over the spinach, between the hot bread and tofu the spinach will nicely wilt
then place the egg and drizzle the sauce over
Unlike maybe how you’re used to a traditional Benedict you won’t necessarily need as much sauce, but go with your ‘gut’ on how much to use