Monday, May 30, 2011

Eggs Errislannan - Connemara style Benedict eggs

For anyone who keeps chickens and has a run on eggs, this is a great brunch or Sunday Breakfast.
A few years back I was working in Australia, where I was introduced to Eggs Benedict. A variation that is common in Australia is more properly known as Eggs Montreal or Eggs Royale which substitutes smoked salmon for the ham in the classic dish.
After that I toured New Zealand, and ordered Eggs Royale in the So Hotel in Christchurch, near Tuam street and on Cashel street!
I think my favorite hotel in the world, with a great story behind it and fantastic staff.
It has gone into receivership, but has new management and has been renamed the All Seasons hotel.
I really hope they kept the same ethos and staff.
They served their Eggs Royale with a small fillet of smoked salmon cut thickly rather than the usual slices, and I loved it.

While in Malta once I had Sardines that were served with Maltese sauce, a variation on Hollandaise that uses blood orange in place of lemon and duck egg yolk in place of chickens.
Funny thing is, although I had the sauce in Malta - its actually a French Recipe! I guess it's like having french fries instead of fritte in France.

Smoked fish and eggs are a classic combination - salmon and scrambled eggs, kedgeree in Scotland with smoked herring, eggs and rice - there are many examples.
I can't wait until the perennial bed comes up next year so I can use asparagus spears with the mackerel and garnish with samphire - Nevin watch out!!

With that inspiration, I came up with this brunch, with the usual Irish twist - as the mackerel came from Ballyconeeley I'm calling this one Eggs Errislannan
Smoking fish has long been a way of preserving, and here in Connemara we have some of the cleanest water in the world.
We also have a multi award winning smokery in Ballyconeeley, the Connemara Smoke House, producing great salmon, gravlax and mackerel. This is really top end Irish produce, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Mackerel is a great fish which has featured on this blog before and will no doubt again. Its also a sustainable species, and the way Irish fishermen shoot for it commercially is quite specific and environmentally sound. In Connemara, most mackerel is line caught. Smoked mackerel is tasty and filling, packed with Omega oils that are healthy etc etc - but for me the main factor is taste.

My take on Eggs Benedict is simple boxty, smoked mackerel with a poached egg and Maltese sauce.

The Maltese Sauce is the hardest part of the meal to make, but the great thing about it is that you can make it in advance and re-heat. The Tarragon is not in the classic sauce, but I feel it really does add a lot more to the meal.
80ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tsp orange zest
1 duck egg yolk (you can keep the white or chuck in the boxty mix if you like)
230 grams Cuinneog butter (using Cuinneog really adds to the flavour)
1 Tsp dried Tarragon
Good pinch of Cayenne

Melt the butter at a low temperature and keep warm in a bowl. Keep about 2 tsp in reserve for the boxty.

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice and orange zest, and place over medium-high heat.
Bring the saucepan to a boil and reduce by 2/3, about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and strain into a bain marie bowl.
I would like to point out this was my Grandmothers bowl - been in the family since at least the 1920's
Add the duck egg yolk, Cayenne and Tarragon - whisk.

Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and continue to whisk until the egg starts to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the heat, and slowly drizzle a little of the butter into the egg mixture.
Whisk constantly to incorporate.
Return the bowl to the heat, whisk again, and when the egg starts to thicken again, continue to add more of the butter to the egg.
Remove from the heat periodically to cool the bowl, and return it once it cools slightly.
Continue in this on-the-heat, off-the-heat fashion until all of the clarified butter is incorporated.
The moment the butter is incorporated remove the bowl from the saucepan, transfer the sauce into a cool sauce boat, and season with the salt and pepper.

As a base for the meal I used buttermilk Boxty, I did try buttermilk whey chapatti, but this gives more depth and richness.
250g, peeled, grated, squeezed
250g cold mashed potato
100ml Cuinneog buttermilk-  another great product from the Mayo dairy
200g plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp melted cuinneog butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

If prepping from scratch, you can also add the duck egg white.

Wrap the grated potato in a clean tea towel and wring well to get rid of any excess liquid.
Add the grated potato to a mixing bowl with the cold mashed potato and mix until well combined.

Add the flour and baking powder to the potato mixture and mix until well combined.
Stir in the melted butter and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Add the buttermilk, a little at a time, to the potato mixture, beating after each addition until the buttermilk has been fullyworked into the mixture. When all of the buttermilk has been added to the potato mixture it should resemble a thick, heavy batter. If the mixture is too sticky, add more milk as necessary. Set aside.

Heat some oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat.

Around this time its a good time to start poaching the eggs.

Add spoonfuls of the boxty batter to the pan, leaving enough space around each spoonful for the mixture to spread. Fry the boxties on a medium to high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the boxties are golden-brown and the grated potato is cooked through. Remove the boxties from the pan using a slotted spoon, set aside to drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.

The fillets from the Connemara Smoke House have a beautiful and natural colour, particularly on the skin - but dont be tempted to leave it on, its best to remove it.
Place the smoked Connemara mackerel fillet, skin side up, on the warm boxty base. Remove skin and any excess bones.
For a brunch serve with some lightly dressed sliced tomatos - I just use salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice - or a micro salad.What works especially well is radishes - but I ate all mine yesterday :-(

Place the poached egg on top of the mackerel carefully. Spoon over the warmed Maltese Sauce and garnish with fresh kitchen garden herbs - serve and bask in the glory.
Thing is, although the meal is quality, filling and delicious, once you've cracked making the Maltese sauce, its very easy to prepare everything in advance for a quick cook and reheat.

As always, I'd advise messing around with the recipe - try smoked salmon from the smoke house - and if you are visiting the region they do tours of the smoke house. The tours run seasonally in June, July and August on Wednesdays at 3PM - thats one day a week so booking is advisable, but a visit is very much worthwhile.
Its great to see traditional, artisan food production.

As always, I hope you enjoyed the recipe - and as always, feedback and comments on variations etc are welcome.

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  1. HiSimon, I just want to wish you well with all you are doing - you are a great inspiration to me. I also think that you should consider opening a restaurant or at least writing a cook book.

    By the way there is a health shop in Clifden which can provide you with organic herbs and spices and flours and grains. check it out!

  2. Hi Terri - can you email


Thanks for commenting - its cool that you took the time