Eggs Benedict is a traditional American brunch or breakfast dish that consists of two halves of an English muffin each of which is topped with Canadian bacon – or sometimes bacon – a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. The dish was first popularized in New York City. Many variations on the basic recipe are served.
There are conflicting accounts as to the origin of Eggs Benedict.
In an interview recorded in the “Talk of the Town” column of The New Yorker in 1942, the year before his death, Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, claimed that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of hollandaise”. Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d’hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham for the bacon and a toasted English muffin for the toast.
Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon in place of Canadian bacon, also known as Eggs Royale
Another claim to the creation of Eggs Benedict was circuitously made by Edward P. Montgomery on behalf of Commodore E. C. Benedict. In 1967 Montgomery wrote a letter to then The New York Times food columnist Craig Claiborne which included a recipe he claimed to have received through his uncle, a friend of the commodore. Commodore Benedict’s recipe — by way of Montgomery — varies greatly from chef Ranhofer’s version, particularly in the hollandaise sauce preparation — calling for the addition of “hot, hard-cooked egg and ham mixture”.
Delmonico’s in lower Manhattan claims on its menu that “Eggs Benedict was first created in our ovens in 1860.”