I was in Chicago again last weekend (yes, again; I had to see the Foo Fighters play at Wrigley Field!). It rained most of the weekend, but thankfully cleared up in time for Sunday brunch. My hostess-with-the-most-est, Trish, brought me to Summer House Santa Monica in Lincoln Park.
Everything about this place was cool, from the bright airy space and beach-y vibe to the California-inspired menu. There was also a group of women at a table nearby drinking out of penis straws. Brunch Bachelorette Party? Not sure, but I liked it.
But what really knocked this place out of the park for me? Smoked Salmon Hash Brown Benedict. Yup. Read it again: Smoked. Salmon. Hash. Brown. Benedict.
I've had many different versions of Eggs Benedict in my time, but nothing like this. It was ridiculous. So much so that I'm going to say something bold right now: this may have been one of the best things I've even eaten. Those are fightin' words I know, but it was seriously that good.
So of course I had to recreate it.
Eggs Benedict is not a light dish. It's traditionally two poached eggs, some kind of salty, cured meat, a crunchy white English muffin and rich, buttery Hollandaise sauce. Oh my dog, that sounds good, but not something you'd normally pick if you were trying to eat healthy or lose weight.
So I did a little research on how to make this a little lighter and even more "California-inspired." Now this dish actually fits in perfectly with my turning-over-a-new-leaf healthy eating plan too. A win-win.
Warning: this isn't the easiest recipe you've ever encountered, but I'm going to go step by step and in a certain order so you can do as much as possible ahead of time so it's not too overwhelming. This is definitely not an "every day" dish - more of a meal for company or a special occasion.
Here we go:
Smoked Salmon Hash Brown Benedict with Yogurt Hollandaise (inspired by Summer House Santa Monica in Chicago)
Dash of white vinegar
4-6 large pieces of fresh smoked salmon
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped capers, drained
2 cups shredded potatoes (fresh or frozen)
Pinch of salt & pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
3 tsp olive oil
2 egg yolks
2/3 cups plain, low fat Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp dried dill (or 1 tsp fresh)
Pinch of salt & pepper
1) Thaw your hash browns if using frozen. If using fresh potatoes, peel and shred and set aside.
2) Chop your red onions and capers and set aside.
3) Take eggs and smoked salmon out of the fridge so they can come to room temperature.
4) Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.
5) Get out your pans: a small sauce pan with a double boiler (I don't have a double boiler, so I use a heat resistant glass or metal bowl to set on top of the pan) for your sauce and for poaching your eggs; a non-stick saute pan for the hash browns.
1) Once potatoes are thawed, add a pinch of salt and pepper, a dash of cayenne and about 1 tsp of the olive oil. Mix with your (clean) hands and form into two even sized balls. Then rub your eyes and see what happens. (Just kidding, don't do that. Go wash your hands thoroughly.)
2) Heat the saute pan over medium heat and add 2 tsp olive oil. Once the pan is warm, add the two mounds of potatoes. Try to keep the potatoes together as best you can and flatten into pancake-sized discs with a spatula.
3) Cook over medium heat about 5-7 minutes per side or until potatoes are golden brown and don't fall apart when you flip them over.
4) Once your hash brown pancakes are crisp and golden brown on each side, transfer the pan to the oven to keep them warm.
1) Add about 1 1/2 inches of water to the sauce pan and heat over high heat until it boils. Reduce heat to a simmer, then top pan with metal/glass bowl or double boiler.
2) To the warm bowl, add 2 egg yolks, yogurt and lemon juice. Whisk together until smooth. Simmer over the water for about 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened, stirring often. Don't skimp on the time - you want the eggs to fully cook within the sauce so you don't get salmonella.
3) Once thickened, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the mustard, salt & pepper and dill until fully incorporated.
4) Set aside on warm stove top.
1) Add more water to the same sauce pan and heat over high heat until boiling.
2) Add a teaspoon or two of white vinegar to the boiling water.
3) Crack your eggs into two separate ramekins or small bowls.
4) Swirl the boiling water with the handle of a wooden spoon or mixing spoon. Gently and carefully slide the eggs from the ramekins into the swirling water.
5) Remove from heat immediately and cover the pan. Let sit for 5 full minutes off the heat.
(Assemble as per below so when 5 minutes is up you can transfer the poached eggs right from the pan to the dish.)
1) Remove hash browns from oven. Transfer one hash brown to each dinner plate.
2) Top with pieces of smoked salmon.
3) After simmering in hot water for 5 minutes, remove each egg from water with slotted spoon and add on top of salmon.
3) Stir your sauce again well, then spoon a healthy amount over each egg/salmon/hash brown tower.
4) Top with more dill, chopped onions and capers, and more salt and pepper if desired.
You are going to die this is so good.
Obviously, I've portioned out one hash brown and one egg per person. If you feel like you need double that (which would be more like one full restaurant portion), then double this recipe for two full servings for two people. I personally think one egg and one hash brown are plenty, especially if you add a side, such as a light salad or bowl of fruit.
Note: since the sauce has egg in it, if you have any leftover make sure you store it in the fridge right away. Having extra sauce isn't a bad thing and makes recreating this recipe a lot quicker.
Another note: if you don't have the patience to make the hash browns, you could swap in prepared hash brown patties, toasted pumpernickel or whole wheat bread for the base of the Benedict instead.