Pour Company Executive Chef Nick Oberlin Shares His Riff on Eggs Benedict

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Pour Company in downtown Fullerton offers an inviting seasonal menu of American classics as interpreted by Nick Oberlin. As executive chef-partner, Oberlin puts his signature twists on everything from Mexican Shrimp Salad napped with a Caesar dressing spiked with poblano chilies and Cotija cheese to Smoked Pork Belly Sliders judiciously slathered with hoisin mayo.

When he visited my home kitchen to tape a video, he prepared eggs Benedict, one of his favorite brunch dishes. His spin on traditional Benedict subs in oven-crisped prosciutto for the traditional ham or bacon. Prosciutto is amazing au naturel, but roasting until crackly puts it over the top both in taste and texture. It’s the ultimate riff.

The Hollandaise sauce that tops the poached eggs is amped with Dijon mustard, an addition that builds a just-right spark of spice and mild acidity. He accompanies the plated dish with fried potatoes that are sautéed along with cherry tomatoes and red onions. The salty element, soy sauce, is added toward the end of cooking and further seasoning with a blend of ground cumin and coriander rounds out the tender spuds.

Salad Day with Keller: When he worked the line at Chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in the Napa Valley, he had a lesson that always sticks with him. He made a salad and Keller tasted it. Then Keller made the same salad and had him taste it. The difference was eye-opening, the finesse in the use of the ingredients struck him to his culinary core.

Breakfast Fanatics: The Oberlin kids adore breakfast. Waffles and pancakes are favorites, the batters augmented with a scoop of malted milk powder. His favorite toppings include smoked almonds and bananas; his children prefer Nutella.

A Wife’s Tale: His wife is the pastry chef at the restaurant. He boasts that she makes the perfect cookie, oatmeal-chocolate chip-Heath Bar-marshmallow wonders. They’re used for sandwiching salted caramel ice cream. Yum.

Drink of Choice: California-made beers. He says that there are so many great breweries in the Golden State that he and his partners built the restaurant around those beers. His favorite is the barrel-aged series from Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim; he thinks that it has an amazing depth of flavor.

Few Know: He is a huge Los Angeles Kings fan, admiring the nonstop hockey action and intensity.

Oberlin was born and raised in Orange County. After studies at Fullerton College, he attended Johnson & Wales University in Colorado to study cooking. Jobs that followed included gigs at Mahe in Seal Beach and Dana Point, as well as Ola Mexican Kitchen in Huntington Beach’s Pacific City. With 20 years of experience working for others, he opened his own eatery, Pour Company in April 2018.

He lives in Orange with his wife Brenna and three children.

Pour Company is at 136 West Wilshire Ave., Fullerton; open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. See the menu at pourcompany.com.

Cathy Thomas is an award-winning food writer and has authored three cookbooks: “50 Best Plants on the Planet,” “Melissa’s Great Book of Produce,” and “Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce.”


Pour Company’s Eggs Benedict with Mustard-Spiked Hollandaise and Crisp Prosciutto

Yield: 4 two-egg servings

8 thin slices prosciutto

4 English muffins

8 medium eggs, for poaching

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Hollandaise 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, warm but not simmering

6 medium-size egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Hot sauce to taste

Garnish: chopped parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place prosciutto flat on rimmed baking sheet(s). Bake in oven until crisp. Split English muffins and toast.
  2. Poach eggs: Break eggs into bowl. Bring saucepan of water to a gentle simmer; stir in vinegar. Swirl water with a large spoon. Scoop up one egg at the time in a cup and at water level pour into center of swirling water. You will need to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Cook eggs about 2 minutes to set the whites but yolk will remain soft. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain (eggs can be poached in advanced, refrigerated, and reheated briefly in simmering water).
  3. Prepare Hollandaise: Melt butter; keep warm but not simmering. Place yolks in blender; add mustard and a judicious amount of hot sauce. Whirl to blend. On medium speed, slowly add butter, increasing speed slightly when half of the butter is added. If sauce is too thick, add a little cold water with machine running. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Plating: Place 2 toasted halves of English muffins on each plate. Top each with crisp prosciutto and poached egg. Top with Hollandaise sauce. Serve fried potatoes on the side (recipe follows). Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Fried Potatoes with Cherry Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup sliced red onion

8 whole cherry tomatoes

2 medium-size skin-on Russet (baking) potatoes, cut into 3/8-inch dice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon ground cumin and ground coriander mixture, see cook’s notes

Cook’s notes: To prepare spice mixture, place equal parts cumin seeds and coriander seeds in spice mill. Whirl until finely ground.

  1. Melt butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes start to pop, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until almost fork tender.
  2. Add soy sauce and spice mixture; toss. Cook until potatoes are tender and soy sauce is absorbed (if pan becomes dry before potatoes are cooked, add a little water).

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