Sunday Brunch: Eggs Sardou (New Orleans-Style Poached Eggs With Creamed Spinach, Artichokes, and Hollandaise)
Editor's note: Each Saturday morning we bring you a Sunday Brunch recipe. Why on Saturday? So you have time to shop and prepare for tomorrow.
If there's one thing you can say about New Orleans chefs, it's that they know how to do brunch right. They'd better, given the number tourists and locals, who wake up every weekend morning craving brunch. Let's just say that on Sunday mornings, the Hollandaise runs as freely as the cocktails did on Saturday night.
Eggs Sardou was created in the 19th century at Antoine's, in the French Quarter, but it's still just effective a hangover cure as it was back then. It's made by topping creamed spinach with artichoke hearts warmed in butter, along with a couple of poached eggs and some Hollandaise sauce. Think of it as eggs Benedict's greener-but-just-as-rich cousin.
I'm not going to lie: the classic recipe is not simple. Not only does it involve creaming spinach, but it also requires you to poach eggs and make a perfect Hollandaise sauce—something that even seasoned brunch cooks occasionally struggle with. Fortunately, we've got a solution to all those problems.
Start with the easy part: creaming the spinach. I sauté a mixture of shallots and garlic before adding flour and milk to form a béchamel (for eggs Sardou, the nutmeg in the béchamel is typically replaced by a couple dashes of hot sauce), and then add chopped spinach, allowing it to wilt. That spinach will slowly simmer and soften in the creamy sauce while we work on the artichokes, eggs, and Hollandaise (alternatively, you can make the spinach the day before and reheat it just before serving).
For the artichoke hearts, I use canned whole artichoke bottoms, carefully drained, and reheated in a skillet with just a bit of butter. The goal is to warm them through without browning.
Making Hollandaise by hand can be a daunting task—it can go wrong any number of ways. Our Foolproof Hollandaise uses a bit of science and the power of a hand blender to create a rich, creamy, thick, and light hollandaise that's indistinguishable from the real thing in just 2 minutes. As for those poached eggs, we've also got a foolproof method that uses a fine-mesh strainer to create perfectly-shaped, liquid-yolked eggs. The best part? Those eggs can also be pre-cooked the day before: just store them in cold water in the refrigerator and reheat by dropping them into a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before serving.
Once the elements are in place, the rest is simple: pile the creamed spinach onto the plate, top it with the warmed artichoke hearts, place a poached egg in each artichoke, spoon on the Hollandaise, and dig in.