Start your day at the Roadhouse
by Ari Weinzweig
If you’re thinking of going out for breakfast to eat something you probably never cook at home, you might want to swing by the Roadhouse and order Eggs Benedict. The Roadhouse kitchen crew’s rendition of this classic American recipe is splendid. A buttermilk biscuit cut in half, thin slices of Nancy Newsom’s twenty-month-old (at this time of year) hickory-smoked country ham from Kentucky, a couple of freshly poached eggs, and a homemade Hollandaise sauce. Rich and delicious would be a severe understatement. The breakfast potatoes on the side are terrific too!
The story behind Eggs Benedict.
In case you’re curious (I was) about where Eggs Benedict came from, the quick answer is, no one seems to really know. There are a series of conflicting origin stories, most all of which go back to New York City sometime between the middle of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th. Legend has it that a hungover Wall Street broker named Lemuel Benedict brought the dish into the world, so his story (as told to The New Yorker in 1942) was that he was hungover and needed help!
Why our Eggs Benny is so good!
While the homemade Roadhouse Hollandaise often wins the headlines, I will say here that the Newsom’s ham alone is amazing. Nancy Newsom is one of the only woman ham curers in the country, and her family has been in Kentucky almost as long as the Gingras family has been in Quebec. She’s one of the last curers who still works only with the traditional seasonal hog slaughter in winter, and ages her hams only with ambient natural temperatures. Her small, artisan, third generation ham curing business is down in Kentucky’s southwest, in the tiny town of Princeton. Nancy came up to speak at Camp Bacon many years ago, whence I started thinking of her as the Lucinda Williams of country ham; a powerful, poetic, strong woman who’s a leader in her field, making a product that, once one experiences it, you’ll have a hard time getting it out of your mind. Same goes for this dish. Right now, as I said, the ham is coming up on two years old!
Once you have the Eggs Benedict for breakfast, the odds are high that you’ll be back for more. And, by the way, if you just want to take home a few slices of the ham, the Deli has it in stock at the cured meat counter.
It’s some seriously good eating!