Eggs Benedict

This is our version of eggs Benedict: a poached egg served on brioche with bacon and a butter sauce, which is much lighter than Hollandaise. We also give customers the option of having it with smoked salmon, or with spinach as the vegetarian option.

Ingredients

  • 1 tblsp white wine vinegar
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 smoked streaky bacon rashers, rinds removed
  • 40 g (1 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 225 g (8oz) baby spinach leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 brioche loaf, cut into 8 slices with ends discarded (you can use shop bought)
  • fresh chervil sprigs, to garnish
  • 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) cream
  • 1 tsp prepared english mustard
  • 2 tblsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp cornflour, sifted
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp snipped fresh chives
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat a large pan with 2.25 litres (4 pints) water. Add the white wine vinegar and bring to the boil. Break each egg into the water where it is bubbling, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 3 minutes, until the eggs are just cooked through but the yolks are still soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of iced water.

Preheat the grill, then grill the bacon until crispy and golden brown.

Add half of the butter to a large pan over a medium heat and once it starts to foam, tip in the spinach. Sauté over a fairly high heat until just wilted. Season to taste and drain off any excess liquid on kitchen paper, then return to the pan and keep warm.

Meanwhile, stamp out 7.5cm (3in) rounds of brioche with a straight-sided cutter. Arrange the brioche rounds on a grill pan and cook for 2–3 minutes, until lightly toasted, turning once. Spread with the remaining butter.

To make the butter sauce, place the cream and mustard in a small pan and simmer for 1 minute. Whisk in the butter, cornflour and lemon juice, then continue to whisk for 2–3 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the chives and season to taste. Keep warm.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the poached eggs and cook for 1 minute to warm through.

To serve, place the brioche on warmed plates and spoon on small mounds of the spinach. Place slices of bacon on top of the spinach. Using a slotted spoon, remove the poached eggs from the pan and drain briefly on kitchen paper. Place an egg on the bacon and spoon over the butter sauce. Garnish with the chervil sprigs.

Notes

Neven's tips: The poached eggs will keep happily in the fridge in a large bowl of cold water for up to 24 hours. The butter sauce keeps for 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. If using spinach, it can be cooked the day before and kept wrapped in kitchen paper in the fridge.


EGGY BREAD BLT

Eggy bread, aka French toast, made into a sandwich with one of my favourite fillings – what's not to like? The eggy bread could also be drizzled with apple syrup and scattered with your favourite fruit, but for me there is something particularly delicious about this savoury version.

Serves 2

2 eggs 1 tbsp milk 1 small ciabatta loaf about 4 tsp rapeseed oil 2 rindless bacon rashers 2 tsp mayonnaise 1 tsp Dijon mustard 1 tbsp tomato ketchup 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced 25g (1oz) Little Gem lettuce leaves sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Crack the eggs into a shallow dish. Add the milk, season and beat with a fork. Cut the ciabatta in half lengthwise, then cut in half again across the width. Place cut side down in the egg mixture and leave to soak for 1 minute before turning.

2 Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add half the oil. Add the bases, cut side down, pressing with a metal slice. Cook for 2 minutes, until golden, then turn over and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and repeat with the tops.

3 Meanwhile, preheat the grill. Arrange the bacon on a grill rack and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until really crispy. Keep warm.

4 Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard. Spread the ketchup on the bases, then add the tomato and season. Top with the lettuce and bacon. Spread the Dijon mayonnaise on the tops of the eggy bread. Sandwich together to serve.