National Eggs Benedict Day is observed annually on April 16. It is a day set aside to enjoy poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce and Canadian bacon or ham on English muffin halves.
There are several different stories as to how Eggs Benedict came to be:
- In 1894 stockbroker Lemuel Benedict, having a hangover, ordered “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a side of Hollandaise” at the Waldorf Hotel. They were so impressed with the dish that they put it on the menu substituting ham and English muffins in place of the bacon and toast.
- In the early 18th century, Pope Benedict XIII liked an egg dish so much that he requested it time and time again. It is also believed that Pope Benedict XIII had an illness which added to his desire for this particular egg dish, hence the name Eggs Benedict.
- In the 1860’s, a regular patron of the restaurant, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, finding nothing to her liking and wanting something new to eat for lunch, discussed this with Chef Charles Ranhofer (1936-1899), Ranhofer came up with Eggs Benedict.
- Craig Claiborne, in September 1967, wrote a column in The New York Times Magazine about a letter he had received from Edward P. Montgomery, an American then residing in France. In it, Montgomery related that the dish was created by Commodore E. C. Benedict, a banker and yachtsman, who died in 1920 at the age of 86. Montgomery also included a recipe for eggs Benedict, stating that the recipe had been given to him by his mother, who had received it from her brother, who was a friend of the Commodore.
- 1894 – First recipe for Eggs Benedict is published. Chef Charles Ranhofer, who reportedly created the recipe a few decades earlier, has the recipe published in a cookbook.
- Eggs Blackstone substitutes streaky bacon for the ham and adds a tomato slice.
- Eggs Florentine substitutes spinach for the ham. Older versions of eggs Florentine add spinach to poached or stirred eggs Mornay – eggs covered in Mornay sauce.
- Eggs Hemingway (also known as Eggs Royale) substitutes salmon for the ham. This is a common variation found in Australia and New Zealand.
- Huevos Benedict substitutes avocado for the ham, and is topped with both salsa and hollandaise sauce.
- Eggs Hussarde substitutes Holland rusks for the English muffin and adds Marchand de Vin sauce.
- Eggs Sardou substitutes artichoke bottoms and crossed anchovy fillets for the English muffin and ham, then tops the hollandaise sauce with chopped ham and a truffle slice. The dish was created at Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans in honor of the French playwright Victorien Sardou. A more widespread version of the dish starts with a base of creamed spinach, substitutes artichoke bottoms for the English muffin, and eliminates the ham.
- Artichoke Benedict replaces the English muffin with a hollowed artichoke.
- Country Benedict, sometimes known as Eggs Beauregard, replaces the English muffin, ham and hollandaise sauce with an American biscuit, sausage patties, and country gravy. The poached eggs are replaced with eggs fried to choice.
- Irish Benedict replaces the ham with corned beef or Irish bacon.