We like simple meals around here. Mainly the ones with a few ingredients that we easily have on hand without any tedious trips to the overcrowded grocery store. Ones that don’t require an obnoxious amount of time or energy in the kitchen, lest it’s cathartic and a Doctor Who marathon is playing in the background. We like the recipes that excite us, not the intimidating ones.
I’m ashamed that I let this Tex-Mex Eggs Benedict dish fit in that category of tedious and intimidating for as long as they did. I immediately dismissed this as a restaurant-only meal, mainly because I wasn’t confident in my abilities to create the three vital elements required for the tastiest version of the dish: a perfectly poached egg, deliciously cooked steak, and the flakiest of southern biscuits. These are three staples in any home cook’s repertoire, but up until now I had a wide, gaping hole in my knowledge and skills necessary to make any of these pieces of the puzzle with respectability or confidence.
But friends, Christmas break was a time of breaking barriers, biting the bullet, and finally learning how to make all of these elements like a proud and knowledgeable home cook. I’m going to give credit to sweet holiday time off, a willing taste-testing husband, and The Food Lab by J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt.
This cookbook is more like a textbook, clocking in at nearly 900 pages of thoughtful, humorous, science-driven explanations and ruminations on home cooking. Lopez-Alt uses his background in science and restaurant kitchens to offer the best, tested methods to making home cooking better than ever before. The first chapter opens with page after page of how to cook eggs perfectly in a dozen different ways, to different cuts of meat and their optimal cooking methods, to various vegetables and debunked ideas like ice baths and salting ground meat before you form it into a hamburger. I need a syllabus to truly take advantage of all that is offered in the immense content that composes this book.
All this to say, that sweet Christmas gift of a cookbook helped me put on my big girl pants and develop a confidence and understanding of the aforementioned elements that compose this dreamy and delicious Tex-Mex version of Eggs Benedict. The author’s step-by-step explanation and direction for perfectly poached eggs was an exciting and delicious hit in our kitchen. We utilized his “reverse sear” method to cook the steak perfectly, bursting with flavors and finished at exactly the desired level of doneness (a first, in our kitchen). While I didn’t use his recipe for biscuits, I did take his advice and gently fold and roll the dough repeatedly like a croissant dough, ensuring the flakiest layers in abundance. Alllll the wins.
Clocking in at about $27, just buy this thing and enjoy the eye-opening lifetime as a home cook that awaits you.
But onto this breakfast… This is what you want to wake up and make on a lazy Saturday morning. Although it may take some forethought and prep, you’ll dine like a king and not experience hunger for at least 12 hours after consumption. Eggs Benedict is a fun allusion to what this brunch resembles, but is missing the toasted English muffin and buttery Hollandaise sauce, instead replaced by buttery, flaky biscuits and creamy queso.
You can make several additions or tweaks to this dish for your enjoyment, or to appease whatever you have available in your refrigerator. Top it with bright, fresh pico, drizzle it in a spicy salsa, or add a dollop of chunky guacamole instead of slivers of avocado. Our local grocery store has great locally-made queso available in the refrigerated section, so I chose to use that instead of make it from scratch at home.
However your final product looks, nothing drizzled in the creamy innards of a poached egg topped with cheesy sauce on a bed of flaky carbs and succulent steak could taste bad. So this is a mighty big win of a recipe.
- For the Biscuits:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chilled butter, cubed into ½" cubes
- ¾ cup chilled buttermilk
- For the Steak:
- 8 oz sirloin steak (or similar cut)
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- For the Poached Eggs:
- 4 eggs
- 3 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- For the rest:
- 1 half avocado, sliced into strips
- Store-bought queso, heated
- To make the biscuits, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, until the dough pieces are no bigger than a pea. Make a well and add the buttermilk. Combine gently with a spoon (I prefer wooden or plastic). Knead once or twice in the bowl.
- Lay out the biscuit dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead two or three times until it all comes together. Pat out into a rectangular shape, then roll over into a tri-fold (like a paper letter). Roll out gently with a rolling pin, and repeat the process a few times, like you would with croissant dough. This creates an abundance of layers in the biscuits.
- Gently roll the dough into a 1" thick circle. Use a biscuit cutter or mouth of a glass to cut out circles and place close together (about 2" apart) on a baking sheet. Only re-roll the dough once to get a few more biscuits. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- To make the steak, pat it dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet (or similarly heavy-bottomed skillet) over high heat until smoking. Add the steak and cook until both sides develop a golden brown crust.
- Add the butter to the pan and keep cooking the steak. Don't be afraid to turn the steak frequently (that develops a nice, crisp outer crust). Spoon the butter over the steak as it finishes cooking, if you like. Once a digital thermometer reads 135 degrees Fahrenheit, it has reached a little past medium.
- Remove the steak and place on a plate. Fold aluminum foil around it (like a tent) and let it rest for no less than 5 minutes.
- For the poached eggs, bring the water and salt to a boil in a large sauce pan or small-ish pot. Once boiling, bring down to the lowest setting.
- Break the eggs into individual serving bowls, and strain each one individually in a fine mesh strainer to remove the excess whites. The remaining egg should include yolk and tight white surrounding it, making it less likely to break or have flyaway whites when poaching (this is optional, but we thought it turned out very well).
- Gently lower the egg individually into the swirling hot water while still in the strainer. Use a spoon to swirl the water in a circular motion to keep things moving. After about 4 minutes, the eggs should be done, nice and runny in the center. Remove and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
- To assemble, slice two biscuits in half on a plate. Layer with thin strips of the sliced sirloin, then top with two poached eggs. Layer avocado slices around the steak, and drizzle hot queso on top of the eggs. Enjoy served very warm.