One of the expressions we use around here when it comes to playing in the kitchen is “think like a carney”. In other words, just because something seems improbable (fried butter? What?), doesn’t mean it won’t turn out amazing. So with the boys out of town this week, it’s the perfect time to play carney because I can wreck the kitchen and none will be the wiser.
My current carneyness involves creating microbatches of jam with flavors like smoky peach bourbon, raspberry cocoa nib, and cherry limeade. Today, its smoked onion and lemon basil jam.
When I have the smokers going for other things, I like to throw on some fruit or vegetables near the end, and one thing I’ve discovered is that my culinary world is a happier place when I have smoked onions. The hits list includes Smoked French Onion soup, smoked onions with pork belly rillettes, and now smoked onion jam.
On its own the flavor is pretty fantastic, though not in a “lets put this on toast!” kind of way. More of a “great! I have this smoked onion jam! What am I gonna do with it??” way. The answer? Make a garden Benedict with the jam and some of the greens that showed up in our CSA share this week.
Excluding the English muffin and the egg (Have I confessed yet how much I loathe soft egg yolks?), there are 3 distinct components to this dish: the onion jam, the hollandaise, and the greens. The recipes for each follow, though I’m feeling pretty proprietary about the jam. Assembly is easy: toasted muffin, onion jam, greens, egg, sauce and tada! Garden Benedict.
Smoked Onion Jam
Makes one small jar
- 1 small smoked onion
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/4 cup lemonade
- 1/8 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt
- 6 leaves lemon basil
Melt butter in a small pot over low heat
Cut onion in half, then into thin slices
Add onion and sugar to the melted butter
Sauté onion in the butter, over low heat until it caramelizes. This will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes, depending on the sugar content of your onions.
When onion is caramelized, add honey, lemonade and salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until mixture has jelled a bit (test it on a plate. If it isn’t running, it’s done)
Shred the lemon basil
Turn off the heat, stir in the basil, and let sit until cool enough to taste. Adjust salt and lemon if/as needed (use lemon zest if you want it a bit brighter)
Makes enough for 2 Benedicts
- 1/2 cup fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh arugula
- 1/4 cup fresh mustardy greens such as mizuna
- 1 Tbs good balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbs good olive oil (I used one that is basil-infused, and it worked particularly well with this dish)
- Salt and pepper TT
Shred greens into bite-sized pieces, toss together with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper
–This was really good right out of the bowl. No Benedict required
Enough for 2 Benedicts
- 3 Tbs plain vinegar (or lemonade…I used lemonade)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbs Lemon juice
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 Tbs clarified butter, melted
- Salt and pepper TT
- Optional: 1/4 tsp lemon juice
Simmer onions, pepper and vinegar or lemonade in a small pan until dry but not scorched.
Add 2 Tbs of water to the pan, stir then strain the liquid into a stainless steel bowl, let cool.
In the meantime, bring a small amount of water to simmer–your stainless bowl should fit over the pot but not touch the water
Separate egg, place yolk into bowl with the cooled liquid; reserve the white for another use (or scramble it for your dogs…that’s what I usually end up doing).
Whisk egg and liquid together until they’re emulsified and just getting frothy
Place bowl over your simmering water and whisk it like you mean it. And keep whisking until the yolk thickens. If it starts to scramble, remove from the pan, turn off the simmering water, and keep whisking. Hollandaise is technique-y. If you end up with scrambled yolk, pitch it and start over–there’s no good way to recover from that.
When the yolk thickens start adding the butter a drop or two at a time, and keep whisking. If the emulsion holds, add a little more and keep whisking. After you’ve done this 2 or 3 times, and the emulsion holds (when you hear about broken hollandaise, it’s a reference to a broken emulsion. You’re trying to get fat, more fat, protein, and some acid to hold together through force of will and whisking power), add the remaining butter and a bit of salt and pepper–whisking all the while.
Taste your hollandaise and whisk in some lemon juice if desired.
Assemble your Garden Benedict; share if you’re nicer than I am.