No meal is more fun than breakfast for dinner, except possibly breakfast and dinner all wrapped up into one. For these decadent burgers Florentine, I married a fairly traditional rendition of eggs Florentine with a juicy hamburger. There is nothing light about this dish, but it is definitely worth the indulgence.
To be true to my source material, I made a hollandaise sauce to top the burgers. Hollandaise and I have a checkered history: I’ve torn my hair out over quite a few broken versions. Preparing the sauce in a blender makes the job about a thousand times easier—it’s much less likely to break this way. (Note: The sauce also becomes more stable in bigger batches, making life easier if you need to scale the recipe up.)
That said, I completely understand if you prefer to wash your hands of the whole endeavor. For an alternative, try swapping the hollandaise for less finicky béchamel. To do this, melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan. Once it's foaming, add an equal measure of flour, stir to incorporate and cook the mixture for a couple of minutes. Whisk in warm milk until you get a consistency you like, and then season. This will give you a deliciously creamy sauce that holds more easily.
If you opt for hollandaise and might need to hold it for a few minutes while you finish prepping the meal, keep a pot of water warm on the stove over low heat. I just put the blender pitcher right in there as an easy water bath, a cheat that works just fine instead of using a proper double-boiler for the sauce. Lightly warming your plates will also help hold the sauce longer once it’s set down. "Warm but not hot" is your mantra for hollandaise—the temperature needs to stay just right or it will break.
Using less butter will give you a thicker, diplike sauce, whereas more butter will yield a thinner, pourable sauce. If your hollandaise comes out thicker than you prefer, you can thin it with a little warm water. I opted for a thinner sauce that I could pour right from the pitcher onto the burgers. It was lovely to swirl the burger through the sauce on the plate as I ate.
With so many flavors in one bite, I kept the burgers simple, and seasoned them only with a little salt and pepper. I like a fried egg on top of a burger, but if you prefer poached eggs, go for it.
In finding a pairing for this rich dish, I looked at medium- to full-bodied red wines to match the food's weight and texture. I also looked for wines with an herbal component to work with the spinach. My husband and I ultimately tried three wines: a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan from Côtes du Roussillon–Villages in southern France; a blend of native varieties from the Douro Valley in Portugal; and an Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata in southern Italy.
None of these wines clashed with the burger's flavors. The Aglianico was the biggest wine in the group, with hefty tannins that overpowered the silky textures of the egg and sauce. (It probably also could have used longer decanting.) The medium-bodied Côtes du Roussillon–Villages made a solid choice as far as letting the burger shine, but was overshadowed by the food. The Douro blend was full-bodied, but had rounder tannins and felt juicier than the Aglianico. When sipped with the food, it had a velvety texture that made a great match for this substantial burger.
Pair with a Portuguese red such as Casa Ferreirinha Douro Papa Figos 2014 (90 points, $17)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes
Total time: 40 to 45 minutes
Approximate food costs: $14
- 1/2 onion, diced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cooking oil
- 1 6-ounce bag of baby spinach
- 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80 percent to 85 percent lean)
- 4 large English muffins
- 4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- 4 to 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch cayenne, optional
1. Sweat onion with a pinch of salt and pepper and a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach with additional salt and pepper to taste, cook until it wilts and keep warm.
2. While the onions are cooking, combine the ground beef with about 1 teaspoon of salt and a generous pinch of pepper. (If desired, you can make and cook a small test patty to determine if you need to adjust the seasoning.) Form the meat into 4 burger patties.
3. Place a large, greased pan (preferably cast iron) on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the burger patties and cook to desired temperature. (About 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or a final cooking temperature of 160° F for FDA-recommended well-done.) Remove from heat, cover to keep warm and allow to rest.
4. Warm the English muffins in a toaster oven or oven.
5. Meanwhile, fry 4 eggs in a greased nonstick pan over medium heat to desired doneness. Keep warm.
6. Make the hollandaise sauce. Check that the melted butter is warm (although not boiling) and rewarm if needed. In a blender, mix together the egg yolk, lemon juice, cayenne and a pinch of salt. Remove the insert from the blender cap. With the blender on, slowly drizzle in about half the butter. Check on the sauce at this point to make sure it hasn’t broken, then continue adding the butter in a steady stream until you reach the desired consistency. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning.
7. Spread a small amount of the spinach mixture on 1 half of each of the English muffins, then top each of these halves with 1 of the burgers. Pour some of the hollandaise sauce over each burger, then top each with an egg and another English muffin half. Serves 4.