There are few brunch dishes that are more classic than an eggs benedict, but that’s exactly why the team at New York City's Jack’s Wife Freda wanted to put their own spin on it. “The Eggs Benny is ubiquitous on menus, and was the perfect go-to dish to do some experimenting with," explains chef Julia Jaksic in an email. Jaksic would know—she consulted on the West Village restaurant's menu with owners Maya and Dean Jankelowitz. Jack’s Wife Freda is known for its take on American-Mediterranean cuisine that seamlessly blends Israeli, Jewish, and South African food in reimaginings of brunch favorites, and their new cookbook Jack’s Wife Freda: Cooking from New York’s West Village is full of these playful recipes, like a Madame Freda sandwich with duck bacon or rosewater waffles.
To put a spin on the eggs benedict, Jaksic swapped out the English muffins for latkes. The trick to keeping these potato pancakes from breaking apart while you fry them up? It's all in the starch. “We use matzo meal—and time,” says Jaksic, adding, “Once you mix in your matzo meal or flour, press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the mixture so that no air can get in to discolor the potatoes. I let the mixture sit covered for a few minutes, give it a stir, and use the palms of my hands to press the latke tight before cooking."
Jaksic also added beet juice to the hollandaise sauce. "It doesn't affect the flavor that much as only a small amount is used, though you may find a slightly earthy flavor to your hollandaise," she explains. "But adding the beet juice creates the most fantastic color!" Oh, and if you're panicked about making poached eggs at home, don't worry. We've got some step-by-step instructions on how to perfectly poach eggs for you.
Jack's Wife Freda's Eggs Benny
- Yields: 4 servings
Pick the parsley leaves from their stems and coarsely chop them. Place 2 latkes on each plate and drape one piece of smoked salmon on top of each latke. Follow with 1 poached egg on top of each latke. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the hollandaise onto each. Finish with a sprinkling of the chopped parsley.
For the Potato Latkes
- Yields: 8 3-inch latkes
Peel and mince the shallot; set aside. Finely chop the thyme leaves.
Peel the potatoes, covering each potato in cold water while you peel the next. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate the peeled potatoes. Rinse the grated potatoes under cold water until the water runs clear, and gently squeeze out any excess water. Dry the potatoes lightly with a towel and place in a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs well. Add the shallot, thyme, and salt to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
Add the eggs to the grated potatoes and stir well so that the potatoes are completely coated. Sprinkle the matzo meal onto the potatoes and once again stir to combine.
Heat a cast-iron pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Using a tablespoon, form a heaping spoonful of potato mixture into discs by pressing it between your palms, taking care not to make the discs too thin. Cook on one side until golden brown, then flip and cook until the second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Be diligent about keeping your heat at medium to medium-low. If the outside of your latke browns too quickly, the middle may still be raw! If this happens, just throw them into a 325°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and season with salt.
For the Beet Hollandaise
- Yields: Approximately ¾ cup
Place a small saucepan, filled halfway with water, over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer, then turn the heat to the lowest flame.
Melt the butter in a microwave or on the stovetop and transfer to a vessel that you can easily pour from.
In a metal or glass bowl that fits snugly on top of the pot of simmering water to create a double boiler, whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice, and beet juice. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the egg mixture begins to thicken slightly. Add the butter in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously. Remove from the heat and season with salt.
From Jack's Wife Freda: Cooking from New York’s West Village by Maya and Dean Jankelowitz. Recipes by Julia Jaksic. Published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by NoamBennyLLC