Recipe: foolproof eggs Benny from One’s Mark McEwan
By Mark McEwan
PREP TIME: 35 minutes
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ shallot, diced
1 bay leaf
½ tsp each kosher salt, granulated sugar and peppercorns
1¼ cup unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Salt and pepper, plus a few drops each Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce
and freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
8 large eggs
4 pieces of ham, cut in half
4 pieces of toasted brioche, cut into 4-inch rounds
2 tbsp chopped chives
1. Put gastrique ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer for 3 to 6 minutes until reduced by half. Strain, cool, set aside.
2. For hollandaise, clarify butter by melting it in a saucepan. Skim foam from the top, then pour into a measuring cup, discarding any solids. Cover and keep warm.
3. Fill a large, wide pan or pot with 3 inches of water. Bring to a gentle simmer, then add vinegar.
4. Return to hollandaise. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk yolks and 2 tbsp cooled gastrique until frothy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place bowl over the saucepan of barely simmering water (make sure it fits without touching the water). Whisk for 2 to 4 minutes until mixture is thick and frothy. Remove from heat. Place bowl on counter, wrapping base in a towel. Whisk in 1 cup warm clarified butter in a steady stream. Whisk in Tabasco, lemon juice and Worcestershire. Keep warm.
5. Cook ham for 1 to 2 minutes per side in a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Toast brioche until lightly golden. Remove to plates; layer ham over brioche.
6. Break 4 eggs into the large pot of simmering water. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until whites are firm but yolks are still liquidy soft. You’ll need to cook eggs in batches. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon and set over a plate.
7. Place a poached egg over each ham-topped toasted brioche. Spoon hollandaise over top, then sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.
If you don’t have time to make your brioche (we’re guessing you don’t), Petite Thuet sells some of the city’s best (1162 Yonge St., 416-924-2777).
Mark McEwan, the Top Chef Canada judge and the man behind some of the city’s most hedonistic high-end restaurants—North 44º, Fabbrica, Bymark and One—mastered this eggs Benny recipe in the summer of 1979 while working at the Grand Hotel National in Lucerne, Switzerland. The formula is dead simple: just toasted brioche, sautéed ham, soft-poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and a sprinkle of fresh chives. “No one ever used the word ‘artisanal’ back then,” says McEwan, “but my summer in Lucerne taught me that if you use the highest-quality ingredients, you don’t have to mess with a traditional recipe.” And he’s right. This dish has been on the brunch menu at One, his Yorkville hot spot, since it opened five years ago. He’d have a mutiny on his hands if he ever changed it.