Muffin Treason: Italian Benedict with Risotto Cakes and Sweet Tomato Jam

Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal to eat out. There are just so many possibilities and my eyes are always bigger than my stomach. I mean, you can go sweet or savory, both equally acceptable.  It’s not exactly couth to eat chocolate, sugar and whipped cream for lunch or dinner, but then we have chocolate chip pancakes, perfectly okay to eat before noon.

Brunch in big cities seems to be a ritual to some, and walk through any neighborhood in Chicago on a Saturday or Sunday morning around 11 and lines will be wrapped around the block at the popular spots.  Restaurants now take it to a whole new level, moving way beyond buttermilk stacks and eggs over-easy.  One of my faves in town just happens to be conveniently located two blocks from my house, a little gem called Jam ‘n’ Honey.  This place had me at hello when I saw huge jars on Nutella planted on each table, chocolate-y goodness for the taking.  NUTELLA. Key to my heart.

When I go out to brunch, nine times out of ten I’ll get something sweet (unless I have a buddy with me willing to go splitsies with something savory). I went through years of eating any kind of eggs I could think up for dinner, so it takes a lot for someone to come up with eggs that trump breakfast bread pudding or banana bread French toast.  But Jam ‘n’ Honey has done it, and I’m bringing you a recreation of my favorite thing to order from there- the Italian Benedict.

I’m not one to usually get Eggs Benedict- it’s too rich for my tastes. The thing with Jam ‘n’ Honey’s Benedict is that the hollandaise sauce becomes completely unnecessary with the addition of a sweet tomato jam and so, while it is admittedly still pretty rich, it doesn’t leave me feeling too internally greasy afterwards.  This dish also distinguishes itself (and makes it Italian) by replacing the traditional English muffin with cheddar corn risotto cakes.  All in all, one mighty delicious package.

I not only decided to make this because, well frankly, it’s delicious, but I also had enough leftover risotto from dinner the other night to make it work, so that recipe becomes a twofer.  The only thing I changed was, rather than make risotto cake cheddar-corn, I simply mixed in some extra Fontina and breadcrumbs and called it a day.  The jam takes some time to meld, but it’s so worth it, and any extra would be great on chicken, fish, pork…or even toast. With tomato season coming into swing, it’s worth the time to make.

Italian Benedict with Risotto Cakes and Tomato Jam
Serves 4
An Italian Twist on the classic Eggs Benedict
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For the tomato jam
  1. 1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, diced
  2. ½ cup diced red onions
  3. 2 TB lemon juice
  4. 1 TB chopped, fresh basil
  5. ¼ cup honey
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1 tsp black pepper
For the risotto cakes
  1. 1 cup leftover cooked risotto
  2. ½ cup shredded Fontina cheese
  3. 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  4. Chopped parsley
  5. Olive oil, for the pan
Make the jam
  1. Add everything to a large saucepan.
  2. On medium heat, simmer all the ingredients until thick and saucy, about 45 minutes. Don’t worry about adding more liquid- the tomatoes will create enough juice so that nothing sticks to the pan.
Make the risotto cakes
  1. Add all the ingredients together in a bowl. I heated up the risotto just a bit so that it was a little easier to work with, but not so hot that it melts the cheese.
  2. Form into four patties.
  3. In a pan coated in olive oil, cook each cake until brown, about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  1. 4 poached eggs, or over easy, whatever you like. I like the yolks runny and I think it tastes fantastic oozing over the cakes.
  2. Place on egg on top of each cake.
  3. Top with tomato jam.
  4. Devour.
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