How to Prepare Eggs Benedict

eggs benedict
Photo by Jacques2017, c/o Pixabay.

Eggs Benedict is the classic American breakfast dish but also one of those enjoyed by everyone as brunch or later as a light lunch. What is it? Well, it is an open sandwich of an English Muffin that starts with bacon – Canadian bacon is most popular, followed by a poached egg and topped off with a dollop of creamy hollandaise sauce. Mind you look out for Eggs Benedict with bacon on top and garnishes of parsley.

It’s one of those dishes that we would thoroughly enjoy in a city like New York. It is believed that the dish began at Delmonico’s in that great metropolis but you know that many others will dispute this assertion.

Many great chefs argue that the Hollandaise sauce is the key ingredient. There are good ways and bad ways to make this sauce. The key is to avoid splitting and making scrambled egg. Some chefs use clarified butter. In all cases, hot melted butter is added SLOWLY to egg yolks which are heated over a bain-marie and being whisked continuously. It does stop splitting.

The whole dish takes less than 30 minutes to put together. The cooking time is between 20 and 30 minutes but can be shorter if some of the ingredients are already prepared. The hollandaise sauce which is essential is described elsewhere.

This version serves 6. The Hairy Bikers have a great version which is described in their book Hairy Bikers’ Best of British. You can also try out Jamie Oliver’s variants. He suggests 4 types of alternatives to bacon which include salmon, burnt ends from barbecues, crab meat etc. They all sound delicious and would make excellent serving suggestions.

Double-Yolk Poached Eggs

Jamie also suggests preparing double yolk poached eggs too. These are prepared by spreading cling-film over a board, lightly oiling with olive oil and then lining a teacup. The lined teacup acts as a mould for two eggs which are cracked into it. The clingfilm is then folded up to form a pouch and knotted at the top. This is dunked into boiling water for 8 minutes. After boiling, the top of the cling film is snipped off with scissors and the poached eggs added to the muffin. It does work – trust me!

Ingredients for Eggs Benedict: 

  • 6 English muffins, halved
  • 6 slices ham, fried streaky bacon or Canadian bacon, or even smoked salmon
  • 6 free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • butter, for spreading
  • 1–2 tablespoons finely snipped or chopped fresh chives
  • paprika – a pinch for each Benedict

Ingredients for the Hollandaise Sauce:

  • 1 small shallot or ½ banana shallot, very finely chopped
  • 3 free-range egg yolks
  • 225g/8oz butter, cubed
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar or tarragon-infused vinegar
  • 10 black peppercorns or some white pepper if those peppercorns are not available
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch sea salt
  • a teaspoon of lemon juice

Preparation Of Hollandaise Sauce:

  • Hollandaise sauce – check out the recipe in a separate article
  • For ease we have produced a version obtained from our chef at the Ostrich in Newland. Place a metal bowl over simmering water, whisk the egg yolks with lemon juice until blended.
  • Cook until the egg mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon and the temperature reaches 160°C, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Very slowly drizzle in warm melted butter, whisking constantly.
  • Whisk in pepper. Transfer to a small bowl if necessary. Place bowl in a larger bowl of warm water. Keep warm, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve, up to 30 minutes
  • Jamie suggests that Hollandaise sauce can be stored for up to 2 hours in a Thermos flask. The flask is filled with boiling water then emptied. the sauce is poured in where it is kept at room temperature. It sounds a good idea but I’ve not tried this yet.

Preparation Of Eggs Benedict:

  • Place 2-3 in. of water in a large saucepan or skillet with high sides. Bring to a boil; adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer in readiness for poaching.
  • Break 1 egg into a small bowl; holding the bowl close to the surface of water and gently pass this egg into water. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
  • Cook, uncovered, 2-4 minutes or until whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Using a slotted spoon, lift eggs out of water.
  • Top each muffin half with a slice of bacon, a poached egg and 2 tablespoons sauce; sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately.
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