Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is one of the most succulent dishes you can make. If you can produce this dish, with a crispy English muffin, tasty Canadian bacon, a perfectly poached egg and delectable Hollandaise; you can sit back, watch your family and guests luxuriate in this luscious meal while enjoying compliments on your culinary expertise.

This dish has several component parts, two of which are somewhat tricky, the poached egg and the Hollandaise. It is also necessary to time the cooking so the various parts come together properly for serving.

To this end, instructions will be given for poaching eggs and making Hollandaise, as well as a time-line so the dish can be presented with all of its component parts done properly.

Poached Eggs

Poached eggs should be cooked in a pan with higher sides or a pot filled with at least four inches of simmering, not boiling water. Watch the heat carefully. The eggs must be covered but not stick to the bottom. Add a teaspoon or two of white vinegar to the water. The vinegar helps draw the protein in the egg white together quickly, faster than the heat of the water, so the egg can cook in a more compact unit. The vinegar does not give the eggs a vinegary taste and helps prevent the stringy mess that can result if not used.

Break each egg into a small dish and slip into the water. A poached egg should have a fully cooked white and a runny yolk. This takes about three minutes. If unsure of doneness, lift the egg from the water with a slotted spoon and gently pierce the thick part of the white near the yolk without breaking the yolk. Return to the water if necessary. When done, drain well before placing on prepared muffin.

I usually poach one egg at a time for the family but for a crowd it is possible to poach several at once, slipping them into the water well separated or using egg rings to keep them separated. It is also possible to cook poached eggs ahead of time and reheat.

I have been making Hollandaise sauce for over 20 years with this method, using a wand mixer, and have only had a problem with a slightly thinner sauce once or twice. I have never had this sauce, prepared in this way, break, that is, not emulsify. Although I use my wand mixer for other things, I would keep it if only for making sauces that require emulsifying, such as Hollandaise, mayonnaise, etc.

Hollandaise Sauce

Serves 4

1 stick, 1/4 lb. butter
3 egg yolks
1 scant teaspoon of lemon juice
dash or two of cayenne (I often leave this out of the sauce to sprinkle directly over the finished dish)

Cut butter into small pieces and heat, melting the butter and heating until very hot. DO NOT BROWN. Meanwhile, place rest of ingredients into receptacle of a wand mixer. Beat briefly. When butter is hot, with wand mixer on, start adding hot butter a few drops at a time to the yolk mixture. Keep mixer running and butter addition slow and steady. By the time all the butter has been added, the sauce should be thick with no separation of ingredients. Keep warm by covering and setting receptacle into bowl of warm water.

To Make Eggs Benedict

Serves 4

4 split English muffins
butter, optional
8 pieces Canadian bacon
8 poached eggs
1 recipe of Hollandaise
cayenne, if not added to Hollandaise

Pre-heat oven to warm setting; turn off oven when heated. Start water heating for poached eggs. Cut butter into small saucepan. Separate eggs, putting yolks in receptacle of wand mixer with other Hollandaise ingredients, except for butter. Toast and butter English muffins. Butter may be omitted without significant loss of taste. Place buttered muffins on serving plates in warmed oven. While toasting muffins, gently heat Canadian bacon in saute pan. Do not overheat to dryness. Set aside covered, off the heat.

Begin poaching eggs. Remove one warmed plate with muffins from the oven and place one piece of Canadian bacon on each muffin half. As eggs are done, drain well, (blot with paper towels if necessary), and place on each muffin half on top of bacon. Return plate to oven to keep warm. Prepare rest of plates. Begin melting butter as third plate completed so butter is hot when fourth plate is done. Keeping plates warm, make Hollandaise sauce. Remove plates from oven, spoon sauce over each poached egg to drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle each egg with cayenne pepper. Serve immediately.

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