This weekend, I decided to treat myself to a elegant breakfast at home. As most people who know me can attest, I love brunch and Eggs Benedict is one of my favorite brunch menu items. As much as I always want to dig into a big ol’ plate of fluffy pancakes drenched in syrup, I always end up going for omelets… or 2 eggs any style… or Benedict. There’s nothing better than dunking crisp home fries in hollandaise sauce and mopping up a runny egg yolk with the remnants of a toasted English muffin. *drooling*
Apparently, eggs Benedict is a difficult dish to pull off (one of those tricky Master Chef challenges that always brings drama despite the relative ease). I mean there are a couple elements to the dish — as my handy epicurean dictionary notes, the official Eggs Benedict consists of a poached egg atop a toasted English muffin with Canadian bacon and a dollop of Hollandaise sauce. Easy peasy no?
But once you’re preparing it, there are several balls you’ve got to juggle… you want your English muffins toasted and warmed; you want your eggs perfectly poached (plus who wants cold eggs); and most importantly, you don’t want your sauce to break or separate or even to overcook and turn into scrambled eggs. So finishing every component so everything is ready at the same time takes some skill.
Now I am a master at poaching eggs and I rarely burn toast, so for me the real challenge was, in fact, the Hollandaise. But, of course, why not challenge myself on a Saturday morning? Gotta keep myself sharp!
For a Hollandaise sauce, the general recipe consists of 4 egg yolks and a tablespoon of lemon juice cooked over a double boiler (a bowl rests in a saucepan filled with a few inches of water creating steam to gently cook your bowl’s contents). After whisking your egg yolks and lemon juice, you slowly add a stick of melted butter, stirring constantly. This will create a thick, smooth sauce…. but as soon as your sauce has thickened, remove from the heat as you don’t want your eggs to scramble or your sauce to break. You’ll get the hang of it!
It’s easier said than done… but I will say I did pat myself on the back for this one! My hollandaise was silky smooth and thick, nicely coating my poached eggs.
There’s of course many variations of Eggs Benedict… add salmon, and you’ve got ‘Eggs Atlantic’ or ‘Eggs Copenhagen;’ sub spinach for the ham and you’ve got ‘Eggs Florentine;’ and artichokes and anchovies and you’ve got ‘Eggs Sardou.’
But I’ve always be a fan of the classic and now at least I know my Hollandaise skills are up to par. Enjoy with a side of asparagus that goes wonderfully with the hollandaise and Breakfast in Bedstuy never tasted so good!
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
- Pinch cayenne
- Pinch salt
- Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble.
- Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.