My favorite way to spin the wheel of random choice ingredients to create a dish is with eggs benedict. At first taste, it doesn’t seem like a meal with much opportunity for creative variety. The straightforward stack of English muffin, Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce is a delicious, savory combination but it also is one of those dishes you know you can order anywhere and it will taste the same.
When I first started experimenting with wild game and testing out recipes to find where I could sneak it in and see if anyone spurned its presence in the dish, I avoided breakfast meals. Dinner menus seemed much easier for finding places to make the protein switch from beef to deer or elk, or from chicken to pheasant or chukar. The only breakfast meal I made with wild game in the beginning was steak and eggs.
I decided to make a Mother’s Day brunch a few years ago, and the natural choice for the menu was eggs Benedict. I researched how to make hollandaise sauce, which I had never done before, and learned how to poach an egg, which was a bit tricky. While I was making the meal, I kept thinking how the eggs Benedict was actually just a blank canvas of basic ingredients, eggs, a meat, and bread with sauce. There was so much room for creativity I realized as I slowly drizzled my melted butter into the egg yolks for the hollandaise sauce.
For the next Mother’s Day brunch, I set out to create an eggs Benedict dish that included some of my favorite flavors. I swapped out the English muffin for slices of toasted sourdough, added a tomato, and switched the Canadian bacon out for a thin slice of medium rare deer.
The possibilities are endless with eggs Benedict, and it is an especially fun meal to test out different ways to serve a variety of wild game and even fish. I have used different starchy bases like French bread, ciabatta, and even polenta. Additional ingredients have included tomatoes, asparagus, arugula, eggplant, or spinach. I have changed some of the hollandaise ingredients including using a lemon or lime in place of the vinegar or a different type of vinegar. I have added different herbs like tarragon, thyme, sage, or rosemary. And of course, I have tried all different varieties of wild game, from bear, elk, deer, and pronghorn to even trout and smoked tuna.
Let me know what you try by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to see what everyone else does with their own version.
Deer Eggs Benedict
- 2 deer steaks (your choice of cut, but I used tenderloin!)
- 4 eggs
- 4 slices of sourdough bread
- 1 beefsteak tomato
Tarragon Béarnaise Sauce ingredients
- 2 sticks (or 1 cup) butter, melted and still warm
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for the deer steaks
1. Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat.
2. Season the deer steak with salt and pepper.
3. Place the steak in the preheated pan and cook to medium-rare. The time will depend on the thickness of the steak—my steaks were between an inch and two inches thick, and I cooked each side for four minutes.
4. Remove the steak from the heat and tent in tin foil, allowing the steak to properly rest.
Instructions for the tarragon béarnaise
1. Melt the two sticks of butter and let cool slightly. You don’t want the butter bubbling hot, but you want it to still be warm.
2. Place the egg yolks in a blender and pulse a few times to break them up.
3. With the blender running, add the white wine vinegar and mix for a few seconds.
4. With the blender running, slowly stream in the warm butter. Once all the butter is added, continue to blend for a minute.
5. Add the fresh tarragon, salt and pepper. Blend for another minute. Keep the sauce warm with the lid on the blender.
Instructions for poached eggs
1. In a large pot, bring three cups of water to a light boil.
2. Once the pot is gently boiling, use a large spoon to create a whirlpool in the water. With the water spinning, drop the cracked eggs, one at a time, into the pot.
3. Allow the eggs to cook for two to two and half minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon.
Instructions for the Benedict
1. Brush the sour dough bread slices lightly with olive oil and toast on a griddle until golden brown.
2. Place a tomato slice on the toasted bread.
3. Pile on a few slices of deer steak.
4. Gently rest the poached egg on the stack.
5. Cover generously with tarragon béarnaise sauce.
Lindsey Bartosh, an eighth-generation Moab girl, loves hiking, hunting, fishing, cooking, writing, photography and working on her website www.huntingandcooking.com.