No breakfast or brunch menu is complete without Eggs Benedict, but where did the dish come from?
Eggs Benedict is a classic breakfast item. The popular combination of toasted English muffin, ham, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce has been a standard on American menus for many years.
Like so many dishes in American cuisine, the exact origins of Eggs Benedict are unknown. One account says that it was created in 1894 by retired stock broker Lemuel Benedict who went to the Waldorf Hotel looking for a hangover cure. He ordered buttered toast with poached eggs, bacon and Hollandaise sauce. The famous maitre d’hotel at the time, Oscar Tschirky, decided to add it to the breakfast menu. He made a slight modification with an English muffin standing in for toast, and ham instead of bacon.
According to a different story, the dish was created by Chef Charles Ranhofer of Delmonico’s Restaurant sometime in the 1860’s for Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, who wanted something new to eat for lunch. The Chef’s recipe was published in his 1894 cookbook The Epicurean.
Another theory is that the dish is based on the French recipe oeufs Benedictine which consists of fried bread that is spread with a salt cod and potato puree then topped with poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. Proponents of this theory believe that Chef Ranhofer of Delmonico’s may have been familiar with this recipe and created a version with ham that would be preferred over salt cod.
Today there are many versions of Eggs Benedict served on menus across the country. They may include items such as smoked salmon, avocado, sliced tomato, and cheese sauce. Eggs Florentine replaces the ham with spinach, and if you order a Country Benedict you get a biscuit topped with sausage, country gravy and fried eggs.