A few weeks ago I purchased a ticket to attend perhaps one of Kansas City’s finest brunches ever, a benefit for No Kid Hungry. Yes, the Country Brunch & Bloody Mary Smack Down located at The Guild downtown and organized by Gina Reardon and Nancy Smith.
I arrived early for the event. I had a VIP ticket and when I walked in, I saw a room full of many friends and chefs set up at tables passing out their signature brunch items. Down the center of the room was a 30-foot Bloody Mary bar that could be a whole story in itself. Talk about impressive!
Now before I start on a certain item, let me tell you every single chef brought their A-game and each and every table was just over-the-top delicious, including Belgian waffles, various seafood dishes, doughnuts and bagels, eggs of all sorts along with unique meat dishes. But one caught my eye that I may just never forget.
Stewart Lane of Lon Lane Inspired Occasions prepared not just your average Eggs Benedict but one that was memorable and without a doubt, my now favorite brunch dish ever.
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Stewart decided not to do the run-of-the-mill Eggs Benedict but deconstructed Eggs Benedict. Instead of poached eggs he decided to sous vide the eggs, not an easy task but one that he batted out of the ballpark.
Sous vide is a method of placing food in a sealable bag and placing the bag in a water bath and cooking at a certain temperature for a period of time until the inside of the vegetable, beef, poultry or fish item reaches the correct temperature. This could be as little as 15 minutes or as long as 18 to 24 hours.
Actually, the Eggs Benedict were deconstructed and guests were allowed to build their own. I talked to Stewart for a while and decided to do a short interview while there. I think you will find him as interesting as the dish itself. I also think I am very fortunate to get his recipe for home use.
Jasper: You recently cooked Eggs Benedict but not the ordinary dish found at most restaurants. Tell me a little about it.
Stewart: I love Eggs Benedict, I used to run brunch at a small restaurant in Manhattan, Kan., and every Sunday morning I would start my day with a benedict. I wanted to take all of those amazing flavors and textures and turn it into something approachable, easy to execute for a lot of people, and be fun and exciting!
We took all the hard work of individually poaching eggs and replaced them with perfectly poached sous vide eggs in the shell. These eggs were slow cooked for 45 minutes at 142 degrees. This yields my favorite texture. A set but silky white and a custardy smooth yolk. Pair this with the classic flavors of bacon, tomatoes, English muffin croutons and warm hollandaise sauce and you are well on your way to a perfect brunch plate.
Jasper: Our readers may be interested in sous vide. Any tips on doing this at home?
Stewart: Always be mindful of your temperatures. If you vacuum seal something hot, it will stay hot for longer and this can lead to you holding your food at incorrect temperatures and ruining the dish. Also while you don’t need a vacuum sealer, they are a great tool to have and you can seal and pre portion meals for the future.
Jasper: Perhaps a different variation on the dish? Maybe a Béarnaise? Different bacon?
Stewart: The benedict is as open to interpretation as your creativity allows. I do this bar at home for my friends and family and I start with several different kinds of bread; grilled multi grain and French farm from Farm to Market and toasted English muffins. Next you can offer traditional Canadian bacon, lox or grilled salmon, crispy bacon, heirloom tomatoes or sautéed spinach. At the very end you have a pot full of eggs, a slotted spoon and a double boiler of your sauce… or sauces (Choron, Bearnaise, or a cheesy Mornay Sauce)
Jasper: Is there anything else you would like to add to the dish?
Stewart: You can add as little or as much as you want, the basic concept of toasted bread and poached egg is the most elegant of canvases for your brunch guests to make their masterpiece.
Stewart decided to share his recipes for his eggs in a Hollandaise sauce to-die-for. I hope you enjoy it much as I did.
Lon Lane Inspired Occasions Sous Vide Eggs
Heat 4 quarts of water to 142 degrees with your immersion circulator in a heavy pot or plastic tub. Add the eggs carefully to the pot. Set a timer for 45 minutes. When the timer goes off remove all the eggs and submerge them in ice water if you are not serving them immediately. Place back into warm water to rewarm when ready to serve. Crack the egg like you would if it was raw and slide the egg out of the shell.
Stewart Lane’s One Pot Hollandaise
3 egg yolks
7.5 ounces of butter (15 tablespoons)
Juice from one lemon
Pinch of salt
Dash of tabasco or cayenne
Cube the butter, add the lemon juice, egg yolks, and butter to a pot and place on low heat. Start stiring with a whisk until everything is melted together. Keep stirring till the sauce thickens into a velvety and thick sauce, about 6-8 minutes. Keep over warm, but not too hot, water.
Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.