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Eggs Benedict

September 5, 2012

Back in March of this year when my husband and I visited The Restaurant at the Getty Center, my husband had never had an eggs benedict before.  In fact, he didn’t even know what eggs benedict were until he ordered a crab cake benedict that day.  He didn’t care about the eggs benedict part of the dish, he just wanted the crab cake.  But, that day he discovered just how much he liked eggs benedict.  I had thought that perhaps he might not like the Hollandaise sauce because, after all, this is the same guy who doesn’t like dressing on his salad, and doesn’t like sauces for anything.  I guess hadn’t realized how much he really liked eggs benedict until a few months later we went to Las Vegas for a weekend getaway.  During that trip, we ate that The Buffet at the Wynn Hotel twice, and both times, my husband loaded up on eggs benedict and couldn’t stop talking about how much he liked them.

Low and behold, when we come back home, he says to me that he’d like to try to make eggs benedict one night for dinner.  Ok, so breakfast for dinner, but you get the idea.  I kind of looked at him dumbfounded because I’m not a big eggs benedict person, and I figured this would turn out to be a disaster because Hollandaise sauce can’t be the easiest thing in the world to make.  But he was bound and determined to do it, so I said ok.  Before we go any further, in case you don’t know what eggs benedict are, essentially it is traditionally made with half an English muffin, topped with either bacon or ham, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.  There are varying accounts of where eggs benedict originated from; some say it was the suggestion of Lemuel Benedict in 1942 who walked into the Waldorf Astoria hotel and asked them to make this particular dish for him; other say that the recipe comes from Commodore E.C. Benedict who passed away in 1920, and that he had written this recipe on a card and had given it to a friend and it was handed down through that friend’s family; and finally there is a tale that the idea of eggs benedict comes from Mrs. Le Grand Benedict who walked into Delmonico’s in New York City and at the suggestion of the chef came up with this recipe for a new dish.  Either way, the key to making a good eggs benedict is in the Hollandaise sauce, a sauce considered one of the 5 sauces that should be in every French chefs repertoire.  Here would be our attempt at making eggs benedict.

We gathered all of the necessary ingredients for our eggs benedict: English muffin, eggs, butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Canadian bacon, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar.

In preparation to make the Hollandaise sauce, you need a couple of sticks of butter.

The butter needs to be melted.  The easiest way would be to melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave.  Or you could also melt it in a pot over the stove as well.  Once we had melted butter, we decided to use a baster to brush some of the melted butter over the English muffins.

We separated the English muffins into halves and laid them out on a baking sheet.  Brush some melted butter over the English muffins to help them get nice and toasty in the oven.  Just before the dish is ready to be assembled, put the baking sheet into a pre-heated oven and allow the English muffins to become toasty without overcooking it.  You want the edges to get crispy, but you don’t want to overcook the entire muffin as it should still be a little soft in the middle.

It’s time to start preparing the Hollandaise sauce.  Essentially, Hollandaise is an emulsion of egg yolks and butter usually flavored with a bit of lemon juice to add a little bit of tang.  In a mixing bowl, add in egg yolks, lemon juice, a tablespoon of water, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, and some pepper.  White pepper is best so you don’t see the pepper in the sauce, but if you don’t have white pepper on hand (like we didn’t), go ahead and use black pepper.  Whisk the egg mixture together until all the ingredients are combined.

Start a double boiler.  If you don’t have a dedicated double boiler, you can make your own.  Take a heat safe glass bowl that fits snugly into a slightly larger saucepan.  Fill the saucepan with a small amount of water, but not so much water that water touches the bottom of the glass bowl when you put the bowl into the sauce pan.  Turn on the burner to medium-low heat and wait for the water in the saucepan to heat up.  What you are trying to create is steam off of the water in the saucepan.  The steam is trapped in the saucepan by the glass bowl.  This steam heats up the glass bowl, thereby heating whatever is inside the glass bowl.  This creates a double boiler.

Into the glass bowl, pour the egg mixture that you’ve just whisked together.  As the glass bowl starts to heat up, continue whisking the eggs.  Don’t let the egg mixture sit on the bottom of the glass bowl or else you’re going to start to cook your eggs, and scrambled eggs are not what we are going after.  Once the glass bowl is heated, slowly start to add in the melted butter to the egg mixture in the double boiler.  As you add in the melted butter, continue to whisk the eggs, and don’t stop.

Once all of the melted butter has been added, keep whisking the egg mixture.  After a few minutes, you will see the Hollandaise sauce start to come together.  You’ll see that the egg/butter combination is getting thicker and thicker.  And the color of the mixture will have gone from a bright yellow/orange color to a very pale light yellow/cream color.  That’s when you know your Hollandaise sauce is complete.  It’s much simpler than you think.  At this point, turn the heat off the saucepan.  Take the glass bowl and take it off the saucepan.  Cover it up to keep the heat in, and set it to the side while you prepare the rest of the eggs benedict.

Take small slices of Canadian bacon and throw them on the grill to heat them up.  You only need one slice of Canadian bacon per eggs benedict you make.

Grilling the Canadian bacon will only take a few minutes on each side.  You’ll get some nice grill marks on the Canadian bacon, but be careful not to overcook it or else it will become rubbery.

It’s now time to poach the egg.  This is probably the hardest part of making eggs benedict.  You want your eggs so that the egg whites are cooked, but the yolk is still slightly runny, that way when you cut into the eggs benedict the runny yolk can run out.  What you’ll need is a pot of boiling water.  Add to the pot just a touch of white vinegar.  The vinegar will help in poaching the eggs.  You want the poached egg to be contained in a small tight package.  So rather than just dropping an egg into a pot of boiling water, where the egg white will spread out and you end up with this monstrosity of a semi-cooked egg, you need to find a way to keep the egg contained.  So, an easy trick is to wait for the water to boil.  Before you drop the egg into the pot of water, take a spoon and dip it into the pot.  Start swirling the spoon inside the pot in circular motions.  As the water starts to swirl around the spoon, keep your spoon moving faster and faster.  Basically until you’ve created a tornado of swirling water inside the pot.  In the center of the pot, you’ve created a cavity, and the water is swirling around the edges of this cavity. You want to crack your egg right into the cavity.

As the egg gets dropped into the cavity, the egg whites will swirl with the water and end up wrapping itself around the yolk.  You will end up with a poached egg that is contained within a small packet.  Give the egg a few minutes to set.  The egg white should go from clear and translucent to white.

After a few minutes you can take the poached egg out of the pot of boiling water with a slotted spoon.  When you lift the poached egg out of the water, you’ll see that it’s still a little jiggly, which indicates that the yolk is still a little runny.  Exactly what you are looking for.

It’s time to start assembling the eggs benedict.  Take one half of a toasted English muffin and drape a grilled piece of Canadian bacon over the top of it.

Next is the poached egg.  Take the poached egg from the pot of boiling water and set it right on top of the grilled piece of Canadian bacon.

It’s time to retrieve the Hollandaise sauce you made earlier and set aside.  Take a spoon and start spooning Hollandaise sauce over the top of the poached egg.  Here’s where you can add as much or as little Hollandaise sauce as you’d like.

Finally, finish off the eggs benedict with some fresh cracked black pepper right over the top.

Serve the eggs benedict immediately.  Be prepared to enjoy.  Take a knife and cut right through the eggs benedict.  You’ll see all that runny egg yolk come oozing out of the poached egg.  Take a bite and you’ll be blown away with the combination of the crunchy English muffin, the slightly salty Canadian bacon, the creamy poached egg, and the slightly lemony-tang of the rich Hollandaise sauce.  It makes a perfect combination.  My husband was so pleased at the way this turned out.  I am sure that we’ll be making it many times over.  Eggs benedict has to be his favorite dish these days.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2012 9:19 pm

    I love eggs benedict and I make an awesome Hollandaise sauce.

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