Set the Net: salmon hash eggs benedict brunch spectacular

Jan 4, 2017

Brunch is a completely under appreciated meal time, and so for this New Year I’m bringing it back: click here for Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict on fresh baked English Muffins + a warm winter Spinach Salad!

Susie Jenkins-Brito authors a food blog focused on local fare and hosts a twice monthly show on KDLG called "Set the Net: Recipes Inspired by Life in Bristol Bay." Follow her at www.setthenet.com and email any food questions, subsistence stories, or recipe queries to setthenet@gmail.com.

Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict on fresh baked English Muffins + a warm winter Spinach Salad - a brunch menu for the New Year

Brunch is a completely under appreciated meal time, and so for this New Year I’m bringing it back. The hobbits had it just about right with Elevenses. Breakfast has already been had, perhaps twice if you live in Middle Earth or you have toddlers afoot, with any luck you are still enjoying some hot coffee and not quite ready for lunch. Likely it is a weekend or holiday so there is no reason not to visit with friends, share a good meal ,and perhaps kick the day off enjoying a bubbly mimosa. A new twist on that old favorite we came upon this holiday season was to mix champagne with Martinelli’s Sparking Apple Cider topped with a cinnamon stick garnish for a Sparkling Cider Smash. 

In fact brunch is the new dinner party once you have kids, at least I feel it should be. Being invited to dinner or hosting dinner is always fun but by the end of the evening my children are melting down and often it takes a day or two to recover our schedules but with brunch - naptime ticks along on time, the morning stretches blissfully on, and routines remain intact. 

If the thought of cooking a meal for guests before you’ve had all day to prep leaves you wanting to crawl back under the covers, fear not this brunch menu allows for the prep to mainly occur the day before if desired. And this is Set the Net where salmon and baking are found in bountiful quantities, thus I digress into what I feel is an epic brunch menu for a chilly winter day... Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict on fresh baked English Muffins + a warm winter Spinach Salad. 

To begin, this Homemade English Muffin recipe is likely one of the most satisfying and surprisingly easy yeast doughs I baked in 2016. They are kneaded wholly in the bowl of your stand mixer, require a bit of easy hands on time, fluff magically when browned on a dry cast iron pan, finish in the oven, and result in perfectly airy pockets of bread that pool delectably with buttery hollandaise in Benedict's. For radio purposes I will not cover the making of these muffins on air, but encourage you to hop over to KDLG.org or setthenet.com for the full recipe and instructions along with this post - skip the stale store bought pastries for these fresh muffins that will make your house fill with delicious warm yeast baking smells and wow your brunch guests with your mad culinary skills.

Salmon Hash is as it sounds... a hash is traditionally a meat diced small often mixed with root vegetables though not in this case, and cooked quickly for morning service. I see Salmon Cake Eggs Benedict frequently on menus and while delicious, cakes often require a crumb or panko binder and I wanted that full on unadulterated salmon flavor in this Benedict and of course cakes require forming... an extra step for this meal I decided to skip. 

Poached eggs I feel are often a nemesis for the home cook, whites becoming rubbery, yolks bursting, a tricky dance to be sure, and so the eggs are completely reworked for this brunch Benedict. Instead I opt for soft boiled eggs easily and quickly cooking as many eggs as I need to serve my guests. I love soft boiled eggs, the white is perfectly done, while the yolks are creamy and glorious - all accomplished without any of the additional flavors that frying can create and bonus no broke yolk mishaps. Also peeling these eggs is an easy task to engage the eager helper in, while you are making the buttery Hollandaise Sauce that will tie this whole dish together. 

Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict on fresh baked English Muffins + a warm winter Spinach Salad

This is certain to be the longest post I have written to date with 5 recipes total - Just keep in mind this is a full Brunch menu and each component of the plate is broken down for simplicity - do not be daunted - go forth and impress your guests with this soul warming meal. 

Salmon Hash

(enough for 5 adult servings as a Benedict base for Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict)

You’ll need:

  • 1 - deboned, skinned, diced sockeye salmon fillet approx. 1-1.5 lbs (preferably Wild Alaska Bristol Bay Sockeye)
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp dried dill 
  • a sprinkle of sea salt 
  • a few dashes of cayenne pepper 
  • olive oil for the pan

To make: 

Combine your ingredients in a large bowl, mix until fully combined. Over medium heat in a well seasoned cast iron or nonstick pan heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once oil is warm but not smoking scoop in the hash and using a spatula to often stir and flip the hash, cook until the salmon flesh changes color to a pale pink and the onions soften, about 6-7 minutes. As soon as all the fish has paled, turn off and remove from heat to avoid overcooking and drying out the fish. 

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Soft Boiled Eggs 

(enough for 5 adult Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict plates)

You’ll need:

  • 10 large eggs
  • a large heavy bottomed pot
  • water 
  • a few dashes of salt

To make:

Bring enough salted water to boil in your pot to fully cover the eggs, once boiling and not before carefully place the eggs into the water. Timing of these eggs is essential, once all the eggs are in the pan start a timer for 6 minutes. When timer is done quickly run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle and peel immediately. 

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For the Hollandaise to top this Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict I went to the only source I trust for buttery French sauces - Julia Child of course. The master of butter and a true French recipe creator for American cooks. From artichoke hearts & petals to salmon hash a drizzle of “that creamy butter sauce” creates a dish my four year old never refuses. It is also not overly finicky, with a whisk and a quick hand you’ll master this sauce readily. 

Julia Child’s Hollandaise Sauce slightly adapted

(enough for 5 adult Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict plates)

You’ll need:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 8 ounces salted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • a small pinch of sea salt to taste

To make:

In a small saucepan whisk together the egg yolks, water, and lemon juice until thick and pale in color. Turn on the heat to moderately low (by that I mean not low not medium low but sort of in the middle of that), continue to whisk briskly while heating throughout the saucepan to prevent the eggs from overcooking. 

As the egg mixture heats it will become frothy and increase in volume, then thicken a bit. When you can see the bottom of the pan between whisk strokes, the eggs are smooth and thick, turn off your heat. 

Add in the butter a tablespoon or two at a time until it is all fully absorbed into the sauce and whisk as it emulsifies into a smooth, airy, creamy sauce. If the sauce cools to the point where the butter is not melting, you can reheat on low while whisking to melt in all of the butter. 

Season lightly with the dash of cayenne and sea salt to taste. 

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Homemade English Muffins

(makes 16 large muffins, you’ll need 1 per plate for the Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict)

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 &1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast (1 packet)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 &1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • cornmeal 

To make:

Over medium heat in a small saucepan heat the milk, honey, and butter until the butter melts and together they reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat, stir in the yeast and set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the egg. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the flour and salt, turn onto low speed. Gradually and continuously pour in the milk, honey, yeast, butter, and egg mixture. Run on low until the flour and salt are fully incorporated with the milk mixture. 

Scape down the sides if needed and swap out the paddle attachment for a dough hook. Turn the mixer onto medium speed and mix for 4 minutes, letting the stand mixer do the work of kneading for you. The dough will become smooth but sticky. 

Lightly oil a large bowl and scrape the dough into it, turn once or twice to coat the dough lightly with the oil from the bowl and cover with a lint free towel to rise at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

Once doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, turning and knead a few times if needed to form a ball. Split the dough in half. Divide each half into 8 equal pieces. Roll all 16 pieces into balls and gently flatten into disks. 

Dust each with cornmeal on each side and place onto parchment paper also dusted with cornmeal. Cover with the towel again and allow to rise for 1 more hour or until doubled in size at room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

Heat a dry cast iron pan over medium low heat, carefully and gently without deflating the disks slowly brown them on each side, roughly 2 minutes per side. Adjust your pan’s heat accordingly. This is where the muffins will puff so satisfyingly, I can honestly say this part makes me feel giddy with success! Work in batches until they are all browned. 

Place on waiting cookie sheets, bake for 10 - 12 minutes. If you plan to eat these warm right from the oven allow them to cool for about 10 minutes before splitting. They can be stored on the counter in an airtight container for 4-5 days or you can freeze them well packaged up to 3 months. Just defrost at room temperature before using, rewarm in the toaster or oven. 

*If you do not have a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid or Bosch you can easily mix these up with a little elbow grease and a wooden spoon. Mix in the bowl until well combined, then turn out onto a floured counter to knead for about 8 minutes or until the dough become smooth. Remember it will be pretty sticky, try not to use too much additional flour! If you desired a slightly denser muffin swap out the all purpose flour for bread flour in the same quantities. 

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Warm Winter Spinach Salad 

(serves 5 adults)

You’ll need:

  • 5 very large handfuls of baby spinach 
  • 1 red onion sliced thin
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 8 ounces crumbled feta
  • sea salt and a few cracks of pepper to taste 
  • sesame or sunflower seeds for garnish, if desired

To make:

Over medium heat in a well seasoned cast iron or nonstick skillet or wok, combine your onion slices and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cook the onions until caramelized. Add in the remaining oil, feta, and garlic. Continue to cook stirring often until the cheese becomes gooey, splash in the balsamic vinegar and remove from heat. In a large bowl combine the fresh spinach with the warm onion feta dressing, toss well and season as desired with sea salt and pepper, topping with the seed garnish. 

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To assemble your Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict on fresh baked English Muffins + a warm winter Spinach Salad plates: 

Split and toast 5 english muffins, I like to do my toasting under the broiler on a cookie sheet so I can toast all 10 sides at once. On each plate place two toasted sides, buttered if desired. Top each with a heaping scoop of the Salmon Hash, onto the hash place a whole peeled soft boiled egg, two per plate, and then smother each side in a ladle of Hollandaise Sauce. Divide the warm spinach salad among the plates, delegate the refilling of glasses with bubbly, warm ups for coffee, and then dig in licking the plate clean in the end. Congratulations, you have mastered Brunch!

Do ahead tips for the day before your Brunch:

  • Make the English Muffins
  • Mix all the Salmon Hash ingredients except the eggs in a large bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to cook, just before cooking crack in the two eggs and mix well
  • Slice onions, mince garlic, and clean spinach if needed for the salad
  • Chill the champagne & sparkling cider 
  • Get your coffee ready to brew
  • Set your table, napkins, plates, silverware, glasses, mugs, sugar bowl, cream carafe, etc (feed the kids english muffins for breakfast at the counter and shoo them on their way)
  • Take butter for Hollandaise Sauce out and leave on counter overnight to be soft for use in the sauce
  • Don’t be afraid to enlist your guests to lend a hand - people love to help, have them peel eggs, toast the muffins, refill drinks, brew a fresh pot of coffee, Delegate! and life hosting will be easier all around
  • Remember none of these fools cooked so you’re already several steps ahead, don’t apologize for mistakes or time spent, most people in general are just happy to be invited

~The Salmon Hash & Warm Winter Spinach Salad are Set the Net originals

~The English Muffin recipe adapted from a Baked by an Introvert recipe

~The Hollandaise Sauce recipe adapted from Julia Child’s cookbook “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home”

Susie Jenkins-Brito authors a food blog focused on local fare and hosts a twice monthly show on KDLG called "Set the Net: Recipes Inspired by Life in Bristol Bay." Follow her at www.setthenet.com and email any food questions, subsistence stories, or recipe queries to setthenet@gmail.com.