After my rather successful and surprisingly popular home-made Sriracha hot sauce experiment, apparently word got out that I’m a bit of a chili-head. Consequently, I received, among other things, a goodie-bag of unknown chilies to play with.
They came by way of my colleague the other day and I’m completely oblivious as to what kind they are. All I know is that they’re quite hot when eaten raw. Which, being the idiot that I am, was the first thing I attempted. I’d say a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10.
Having not exactly expected to receive an entire bag of chilies to play with, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with them. So, I thought I would have a little fun! I posted the image above to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr explaining the situation and asking simply “What to do?” After all, if you can crowd source a business plan, why shouldn’t you be able to crowd source new culinary challenges?
So, I sat back in anticipation and watched suggestions streaming in. Some suggested I ate them raw (been there, done that!), one person suggested using them as a kick in a sweet relish (interesting!), some suggested the old and tested combination of chocolate and chili, but in the end, it was my buddy Michael who came up with the winning bid on Facebook:
“Maybe not the most exciting culinary project,” he wrote, “but why not do a chili burger topped with spinach a poached egg and Sauce Hollandaise?”- “That sounds sufficiently odd,” a curious Johan replied, “I’m in!” – and just like that, the idea of Friday night crowd sourced dinner was born!
Essentially, what Michael suggested was an Eggs Benedict burger, which may sound totally odd, I’ll admit, and I was skeptical to begin with. Michael assured me, though, that the concept, set forth by Danish Michelin-starred chef Thomas Rode, actually does work. I sort of agreed in theory, but would it work in real life? Only one way to find out!
Besides, making the Eggs Benedict burger would require me to dust off a few skills I hadn’t used in ages, namely poaching eggs and making Sauce Hollandaise – the sauce which strikes fear into the hearts of many a home cook.
How to make an Eggs Benedict burger?
Well, having spent parts of my Friday afternoon scouring the local mega mart for ingredients, the plan seemed pretty straight forward:
Step one: Craft a hamburger patty out of quality ground beef, chopped chilies to taste, salt, pepper and a dash of ground coriander seeds. I just mixed everything thoroughly and formed the patty, then let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour. This helps the meat cook evenly.
Step two: While waiting, carefully poach a farm fresh egg in barely boiling water for about three minutes and set aside in a pot of cold water. If you do it this way, you can gently reheat your eggs in warm water before serving and saving some time and stress, especially if you’re doing many eggs.
Step three: Put the heat to your hamburger patties and cook to desired doneness. I like my burgers on the medium, juicy, pink side and I like them made of quality beef with at least 15% of fat. 20% if grilling. The fat is essential and adds juiciness and flavor, use lean at your own risk!
Side note: you may be surprised to learn that step three might just be the most difficult part of this recipe. If done properly and without fear, poached eggs and Hollandaise are not difficult dishes. Getting your burger the perfect doneness every time can be. For a good tip on cooking consistently great burgers, check here!
Step four: Make a classic Sauce Hollandaise using farm fresh egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, melted butter and cayenne. I substituted Balkan chili blend for cayenne because, well, cayenne is a little over-used. Contrary to what you may think, homemade Hollandaise is relatively easy to make. I intend to do a write-up on that in the near future so watch this space. For now, I settled with doing the Hollandaise over direct heat – to prove it doesn’t have to be that scary an ordeal.
Step five: Assemble! Moving rather quickly, I:
- Threw a burger bun in the oven.
- Put my Hollandaise to the side to keep warm in the pot.
- Evacuated my hamburger from the heat and let it rest.
- Snipped my poached egg of any weird bits of white and put it in warm water to reheat.
- Threw some spinach on the hot pan used to fry the hamburger, letting it wilt for a moment, then added salt pepper and nutmeg.
- Got a plate, fixed the bun, smeared it with Hollandaise, added a layer of spinach, put the well-rested hamburger on top, topped with more spinach, the egg and a sprinkling of chili powder.
- Took a deep breath.
.. And that was it! Eggs Benedict burger, done!
As for sides, I threw together a nice little Caesar salad with a proper Caesar dressing to go along.
Caesar salad is the king of salads in my book, and is quite easy to throw together. A great and very standard recipe can be found here. I personally use a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce instead of anchovies.
Eggs Benedict burger: A winning combination?
I’ll be honest, I was skeptical biting into this. A lot of cultures use eggs on their burgers, but to the average Dane, it just sounds weird; especially with the egg being poached and the addition of Hollandaise and spinach. My skepticism was put to shame as I took my first bite, though. Everything in this combo just works!
The beef was perfectly flavorful and juicy with the chili adding a bit of underlying depth and heat that was more than noticeable, but never unpleasant. The heat was balanced nicely by the creaminess of the hot egg yolk from the poached egg on top, while the spinach along with the nutmeg played well with both the egg and the beef. Essentially showing why it’s considered one of the top side dishes both at steak houses as well as at breakfast restaurants. It just works so well!
Following a suggestion by the friendly people over at gastromand.dk, I used an airy cardamom spiced bun instead of a regular burger bun and this just helped raise the overall impression to a whole different level, believe it or not! The cardamom, the nutmeg and the noticeable heat from the chilies help cut through the fatty, creamy tastes and textures of the rest of the burger, and it just plain works!
Pairing the burger with a Caesar Salad turned out a stroke of genius (if I dare say so myself) The crunch of the salad and the croutons was a nice contrast to the fatty, heavy burger while the Parmesan cheese added a nice saltiness. The distinct twang from the Caesar dressing helped everything come together and added a nice umami depth to things. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if done properly, this really is the king of side salads!
Let’s do this again!
Eggs Benedict burgers, odd as it may sound, just works! I will definitely make this again, and I will definitely crowd source my dinner again. This whole project has been a ton of fun and has helped me try something I’d have never tried otherwise!
A note on food safety: The experiment above makes use of a lot of what is essentially raw egg yolk and with that comes the remote chance of food borne illnesses such as salmonella. If you’re at all squeamish or worried, I suggest substituting pasteurized egg yolks. The same goes if you’re catering to elderly people, pregnant women or people with low immunities. You’ll sacrifice a bit in the flavor department, but you will be 100% safe. If you do go with raw eggs, do so at your own risk using fresh eggs from a trusted source. The chances of getting sick are smaller than the media would like you to believe, but salmonella is no joke, I hear! I personally use fresh eggs from a trusted source and scold them in boiling water before doing anything.