There are few brunch dishes that are more classic than an eggs benedict, but that’s exactly why the team at New York City's Jack’s Wife Freda wanted to put their own spin on it. “The Eggs Benny is ubiquitous on menus, and was the perfect go-to dish to do some experimenting with," explains chef Julia Jaksic in an email. Jaksic would know—she consulted on the West Village restaurant's menu with owners Maya and Dean Jankelowitz. Jack’s Wife Freda is known for its take on American-Mediterranean cuisine that seamlessly blends Israeli, Jewish, and South African food in reimaginings of brunch favorites, and their new cookbook Jack’s Wife Freda: Cooking from New York’s West Village is full of these playful recipes, like a Madame Freda sandwich with duck bacon or rosewater waffles.
To put a spin on the eggs benedict, Jaksic swapped out the English muffins for latkes. The trick to keeping these potato pancakes from breaking apart while you fry them up? It's all in the starch. “We use matzo meal—and time,” says Jaksic, adding, “Once you mix in your matzo meal or flour, press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the mixture so that no air can get in to discolor the potatoes. I let the mixture sit covered for a few minutes, give it a stir, and use the palms of my hands to press the latke tight before cooking."
Jaksic also added beet juice to the hollandaise sauce. "It doesn't affect the flavor that much as only a small amount is used, though you may find a slightly earthy flavor to your hollandaise," she explains. "But adding the beet juice creates the most fantastic color!" Oh, and if you're panicked about making poached eggs at home, don't worry. We've got some step-by-step instructions on how to perfectly poach eggs for you.
Pick the parsley leaves from their stems and coarsely chop them. Place 2 latkes on each plate and drape one piece of smoked salmon on top of each latke. Follow with 1 poached egg on top of each latke. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the hollandaise onto each. Finish with a sprinkling of the chopped parsley.
Peel and mince the shallot; set aside. Finely chop the thyme leaves.
Place a small saucepan, filled halfway with water, over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer, then turn the heat to the lowest flame.