Even though I know I can’t have them, I always find myself studying the Eggs Benedict section of brunch menus. They always seem like the perfect item…yet I must move onto another section so I can eat something that won’t make me sick.
At home, however, I am not so constrained. Of course, the chance of me having gluten-free English muffins on hand — or having the time to make them from scratch — is pretty much non-existent. Luckily, there are lots of great substitutes, letting you focus your energy on making a perfect Hollandaise sauce and building your own Benedict.
First, the sauce. Hollandaise sauce can be intimidating (see this step-by-step from Michael Ruhlman). None of us want that for a simple brunch at home, right? I’ve had great success with this blender version from Simply Recipes. Ruhlman’s surely tastes richer, but I tend to land on the side of ease and efficiency. I’ve also posted a step-by-step for the blender method for making Hollandaise sauce on my Facebook page here — I often post short step-by-steps there).
Now, a moment of heresy: while traditional Eggs Benedict draws its scrumptiousness from the Hollandaise sauce, there are No Rules here. Yes, you need a base, probably you need a protein (Canadian bacon being traditional), a poached egg (or fried, if you’re throwing all the rules to the wind), a sauce (but does it *have* to be Hollandaise? No, no it doesn’t).
Now that we’ve covered that, read on for some ideas for making gluten-free Eggs Benedict (or variations on that theme):
- Arepas, Cachapas, and Sopes: I wrote about some of my favorite Latin American corn breads here, and all are perfect as bases for gluten-free Benedicts. While the traditional style certainly works, why not try crumbled chorizo, a scrambled eggs, and a bit of queso? Top with an avocado sauce.
- Avocado-Chipotle Benedict: This is an eye-opener. Using fried polenta as a base, layer crisp bacon, sliced avocados (lightly salted), a poached egg, and a chipotle cream sauce (sour cream, a teaspoon or so of sauce from chipotles in adobo sauce, a bit of lime juice, salt and pepper to taste). Serve with Bloody Marys.
- Corned Beef Benedict: Yeah, I’m going there. Layer thinly sliced corned beef over potato pancakes, add some sauerkraut, and a bit of Gruyere cheese. Melt the cheese under a broiler before serving.
- Gluten-Free Bagel: In my experience, it’s easier to find gluten-free bagels than it is gluten-free English muffins. And they’re easy enough to toast, top with Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and sauce.
- Polenta Rounds: Polenta is an amazingly versatile food. It can be thin and creamy. It can be thick and chewy. It can be shaped, baked, fried, refrigerated, and flavored however you like.
- Portobello Mushrooms: These meaty, sturdy mushrooms make a perfect base for a vegetarian Benedict. Top with steamed spinach with garlic and a bit of onion.
- Potato Pancakes, The First: Shredded potatoes make a perfect base for creative Benedicts. To help them hold together, use gluten-free flour and eggs, much like you would with a latke.Build a traditional Benedict, but add some steamed or roasted asparagus for a splash of color.
- Potato Pancakes, The Second: When I make mashed potatoes, I make a lot of mashed potatoes. Leftover mashed potatoes are a thing of beauty. Lightly fry mashed potato pancakes and use as a base for your Benedict.
- Smoked Salmon Benedicts: Think of this like an open-faced sandwich. Use a multi-grain gluten-free bread (I like Udi’s), top with very lightly dressed greens (a bit of olive oil and a dash of light white or champagne vinegar), poached eggs, flaked or chunked smoked salmon, Hollandaise sauce, and parsley or dill for color.
- Gluten-Free Waffles: Van’s makes a pretty good gluten-free waffle (thanks to the gentleman in line behind me at the grocery store for sharing your thoughts on this product when I was on the fence!). Build your traditional Benedict on your waffle, or try crispy bacon instead.
Tip of the Week
While I like free-form foods, a traditional Eggs Benedict calls for a formal presentation. When I’m trying to impress guests (or my husband!), I pull out a 3- or 4-inch biscuit cutter to ensure clean edges on my English muffin substitutes.
Menu of the Week
For reasons we don’t need to examine too closely, I have a good amount of smoked salmon in my refrigerator. I also have about three kinds of corn meal in my pantry. And, tucked in the freezer is a bag of corn. And, of course, I have eggs. After writing this post, it’s pretty obvious that these are all going to come together as a dinner Benedict.
The salad is very easy: a bit of onion, avocado, corn, vinaigrette. I tore out a recipe from Sunset Magazine years ago, and use it as a basis for various iterations of this salad.