March 13, 2019 / Leave a Comment
Perhaps the most popular brunch dish in the U.S., it’s actually quite basic. Eggs Benedict is poached egg, ham, english muffin, and hollandaise at its core – but it’s so much more. Scorned by brunch chefs everywhere because they’ve made more of these than they care to admit, making an Eggs Benedict at hope is a great marker of one’s technical skill on a semi-difficult sauce that’s only hard because it requires real touch to pull off.
Countless home chefs have tried it and screwed up. Why? That damned hollandaise. You won’t get it right on your first try. In reality, you probably won’t get it right in your first half dozen tries. You’ll end up with scrambled yolks or a broken and forlorn sauce, but hollandaise? She gives her self up to no one on the first date.
It’s a recipe that looks French, while being American. While many stories of the beginning of the “Eggs Benny” began, it’s most commonly believed that Delmonico’s in Lower Manhattan was the first to create the dish (around 1860) in the want to satisfy a hungover patron – but it’s difficult to know with certainty.
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup firm butter
- 3 English muffins
- 3 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 6 thin slices Canadian-style bacon or fully cooked ham
- 6 eggs
- 4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- Paprika to taste
- In 1-quart saucepan, vigorously stir egg yolks and lemon juice with wire whisk.
- Add 1/4 cup of the butter. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until butter is melted.
- Add remaining 1/4 cup butter. Continue stirring vigorously until butter is melted and sauce is thickened. (Be sure butter melts slowly so eggs have time to cook and thicken sauce without curdling.)
- If the sauce curdles (mixture begins to separate and melted butter starts to appear around the edge of the pan and on top of the sauce), add about 1 tablespoon boiling water and beat vigorously with wire whisk or egg beater until smooth. Keep warm.
- Split English muffins; toast in toaster, or pan toast both sides of muffin.
- Spread each muffin half with some of the 3 tablespoons butter; keep warm.
- In 10-inch skillet, melt 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat.
- Cook bacon in butter until light brown on both sides; keep warm.
- Wipe out skillet to clean; fill with 2 to 3 inches water.
- Add vinegar to water. Heat to boiling; reduce to simmering.
- Break cold eggs, one at a time, into custard cup or saucer. Holding dish close to water’s surface, carefully slip eggs into water.
- Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until whites and yolks are firm, not runny (water should be gently simmering and not boiling).
- Remove with slotted spoon.
- Place 1 slice bacon on each muffin half.
- Top with egg.
- Spoon warm sauce over eggs.
- Sprinkle with paprika very lightly, and serve.
There are a few things that most people inevitably screw up to watch out for. First, toast both sides of both halves of the muffin. It should go without saying, but you really don’t want the rest of the product sitting on a cold, gummy muffin, while the outer half is nicely toasted and spread with a little butter.
This screws up Eggs Benedict – regardless of how good you are making Hollandaise.
In terms of the Hollandaise, see where it says you should be cooking on low heat? Yeah, like, really low. You only want the pan to be sweating a little, which is why you want to make sure to use very fresh eggs. In fact, we’ve made this while whisking the hollandaise in a bowl over a mild roll of simmering water, which basically means that you are literally cooking it with only the sweat from the water. To me, this is a harder method that probably wasn’t the original, and it doesn’t taste as good.
Once you get past all the pitfalls, make sure to serve with a side of home fries of sausage – or even both. This is a rich, rich dish, but that’s why people love it as a weekend brunch option.