For about as long as he can remember, Daniel Doyle has been whipping up eggs Benedict, first as a teenager working brunches at Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina, and now as the executive chef at Poogan’s Porch. “It’s a classic English dish that can always stay fresh with innovation. You can top a Benedict with any food you like, play with ingredients from barbecue dry rubs to Grand Marnier, and switch up the breads—we use biscuits at Poogan’s,” says the Johnson & Wales graduate, who got his start in local restaurants like Fish and Rosebank Farms Café.
Of course, you can’t start experimenting until you’ve mastered the basics. “The key to eggs Benedict is a good poach and a well-made hollandaise,” says Doyle. When it comes to poaching, pay careful attention to water temperature, he notes—you never want the water to boil, as this can leave the eggs too firm. Yet if you don’t maintain a healthy simmer, the egg may shatter.
Hollandaise sauce is equally finicky, requiring constant stirring, and for goodness sake, be wary of the butter. “You need to melt it and then allow it to cool before adding it to the sauce,” instructs Doyle. “Hot butter can break the hollandaise.”
One of the greatest challenges for home chefs? Timing the various elements of a Benedict, particularly when you’re going beyond a basic version, as Doyle did with his fried green tomato recipe. “Put your biscuits in the oven, then make your hollandaise. If you’re using bacon, get that going and start pan-frying the tomato. Just before the biscuits are ready, drop your eggs—they’ll only take two or three minutes to poach. Pull the biscuits out and cut them in half. Remove the fried green tomato, then assemble the Benedict.” Sound like a less-than-relaxing morning? “It’s easier than it sounds,” promises Doyle. “And totally worth the effort.”