Eggs are awesome. “Eggcellent,” in fact! They fit in every menu, cuisine, and type of dish imaginable. Healthy when eaten in moderation, eggs can actually be the best protein substitute, complete with its own power pack of good calories, fats, and flavor.
Now, let’s talk about two egg recipes that people often tend to confuse: Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine. Notice that I did not use the word “versus” as my measure of comparison. There is no need to battle out which one is the best, since both are so different. How different? Check out how these two recipes contrast, and decide for yourself which one is the most delicious.
A restaurant favorite, this dish reigns supreme in every American brunch menu. This is because of its versatility and perhaps even because of its history.
In one version of the history of the Eggs Benedict, the recipe is attributed to Charles Ranhofer, who was the chef of the first restaurant ever opened in the USA in 1860, “Delmonico’s.” According to lore, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, was a regular customer who, one day, needed something different for her lunch. In the recipe he later published in 1894, these “Eggs à la Benedick” called for:
2 English muffin halves, crosswise and toasted without browning
1 round slice of ham no thicker than an inch in width and diameter to be placed in halves on the muffins
2 poached eggs to place on each half of the muffins
Hollandaise sauce to pour on top of the eggs
A second story involves a 1920 Commodore, yachtsman E.C. Benedict, who claims to have received this very recipe from his mother.
Regardless, the recipe calls for the basics of egg, hollandaise, ham, and a muffin. Whatever you add to the recipe is entirely up to you. Some modernized versions of the same recipe add cheese on top of the poached eggs and butter on the muffins. These additions are the criteria of the chef, but any changes should be explained to customers who are looking for the traditional dining experience.
This one is easy. Anything with the name “Florentine” in it means one thing: it has spinach.
The history of Eggs Florentine, however, is less commercial and much more royal than the history of the Benedict. The Eggs Florentine recipe dates back to the Renaissance period!
The French are responsible for the coinage of the word “Florentine,” to associate it to spinach. The reason may have been that Catherine de Medici introduced spinach to French cuisine (she was born in Florence), after she married Prince Henry of France. Hence, the spinach in Florentine would take the place of the ham in the Eggs Benedict recipe.
The sauce used in Florentine is Mornay sauce, which is cheese sauce, essentially. The poached eggs are the same on both recipes. In Florentine, however, they can be also scrambled or boiled. Still, there is a 1898 eggs Florentine recipe that addresses the use of mushroom cream sauce and artichoke, which was yet another vegetable also introduced by Catherine de Medici.
If we stick to the original, the recipe for Eggs Florentine calls for:
Bread, or a muffin, which would have taken the place of an actual dish back in the day.
Spinach, whether cooked or fresh
A poached, baked or scrambled egg
Mornay sauce on top
Mushroom cream and artichokes optional
Personally, I prefer the Benedict, but they seem to appeal more to the American palate altogether. That doesn’t mean that the Florentine are not delectable too. I have made them with steamed spinach, often mixing the Mornay sauce with the spinach to serve it to my kids. They still do not dig it, but I definitely do.
So, which is your favorite? These two recipes are awesome for breakfasts and lunches. They can be awesome for small dinners and even for those days when you simply feel bored with the usual.
Most cooking stores now sell plastic containers that will make a perfectly poached egg for you in less than one minute. All you need to do is crack the egg onto the container, and place it in the microwave. So, do not think that you need to become a chef overnight to be able to do this.
Try these recipes today and enjoy the benefits of good eating with not that much effort!