Ah, Eggs Benedict. It’s the special, satisfying breakfast you make when you have a few extra minutes in the morning—or order at your local Peach Valley Café when you don’t.
But how did this one-of-a-kind dish get its start? While no one quite knows who was the first person to pair poached eggs with Canadian bacon and hollandaise sauce, we do have an idea of where it started. As is the case with so many culinary creations, all signs point to New York.
Read on as we explore the unique history behind this beloved breakfast dish.
A makeshift meal…
One popularly-accepted origin story of Eggs Benedict stems from Delmonico’s, New York. It is said that there, in the 1860s, a regular customer named Mrs. LeGrand Benedict was stumped and searching for something new to try on the menu. Likely having tried all the other dishes, Benedict aired her concerns to Chef Charles Ranhofer who whipped up something that would stick: a poached egg dish served on toasted muffins, smothered in hollandaise sauce. Sound familiar?
It must have won over Benedict, because Ranhofer named the recipe after her in his 1894 cookbook, The Epicurean. Then, it took the name “Eggs la Benedick,” but it’s not hard to see the progression from this to our more modern “Eggs Benedict.”
What makes this story a commonly-accepted one? It probably has a little something to do with Delmonico’s itself. The famous New York restaurant is seeped in tradition, boasting several historical firsts—the first restaurant to have a printed menu, the first to serve Baked Alaska, etc. It already has a reputation for innovation, so it’s not hard for historians and food lovers to tack on one more achievement to its hefty list.
… or a curative treat
Of course, Delmonico’s may be a likely origin—but it’s not the only theory floating around. Others, including The New Yorker, attribute the famous dish to one Mr. Lemuel Benedict. A 1942 “Talk of the Town” piece in the magazine stated that, in 1894, Benedict rolled in for breakfast at the Waldorf Hotel after a night of drinking. Naturally hungry, he likely picked the first things he thought of that would satisfy his appetite without being too hearty. The result? You guessed it—a seemingly mish-mash combination of bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and buttered toast. With a few small tweaks, this one-time-oddball mixture became a recipe for the ages. The New Yorker even called Benedict “the sole surviving epicure among those who have given their names to great dishes.” Who would’ve thought that such a seemingly random dish, borne out of such mundane circumstances, would become a staple of breakfast and brunch menus all around?
Eggs Benedict today
Is your mouth watering yet? After all this talk about Eggs Benedict, you may be craving a plate yourself. Peach Valley can help!
We offer the classic dish for those days when you want to indulge in a familiar favorite—our Traditional Eggs Benedict pairs poached eggs, Canadian bacon, an English muffin and fresh hollandaise with breakfast potatoes for a satisfying supplement. But for those who want to try something new, why not try the Vegetable & Egg Croissant Benedict, which pairs a flaky croissant with asparagus, grilled tomato and onions with the familiar ingredients? Or consider the Philly Steak & Egg Croissant Benedict, which features Philly beef grilled with peppers, mushrooms and red onions. The same foundation—poached eggs and hollandaise sauce—provides a welcome combination across the board.
Who prepared the first Eggs Benedict—and when did they do it? For the culinarily curious, those questions might still seem up in the air… but they’re all sure to disappear once you dig into the rich fusion of flavor and texture that is Eggs Benedict.