Eggs Benedict

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Legend has it that a guest at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York invented eggs Benedict in the hope of easing his hangover. While off-the-shelf hollandaise sauces are readily available, I encourage you to make your own. It will make all the difference.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Hollandaise Sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine
  • 115 g (4 oz) unsalted butter (preferably clarified), melted

Eggs

  • 12 eggs
  • white vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 12–24 bacon slices
  • 6 English muffins
  • 100 g ( oz) butter
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

Method

The Sauce

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and turn off the heat. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice and wine (or water) until the mixture has thickened noticeably. Place the bowl over the saucepan of hot water and slowly pour in the melted butter while whisking constantly to form an emulsion that should be a bit less thick than a mayonnaise. Keep the bowl over the warm water until you’re ready to serve. If the sauce becomes too thick, whisk in a little hot water to thin it out.

The Poached Eggs

If you don’t have an egg poacher, you can poach your eggs the old-fashioned way. Bring 1–2 litres (35–70 fl oz/4–8 cups) of water to the boil in a large saucepan, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add a little vinegar to help the eggs coagulate (1–2 tablespoons per litre of water). Carefully break an egg into a small cup or bowl and slide it slowly into the water — the aim being to keep the egg white from spreading all over the place. Use a spatula to nudge the white around the yolk. When the white is set (i.e. no longer transparent), but before it is hard and pale, remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon. Poached eggs that are not being served immediately can be removed from the water slightly undercooked and kept in a bowl of iced water until ready to serve. They can then be reheated in gently simmering water for about 20 seconds.

The Meat

Round, so-called ‘Canadian’, bacon is traditional, but feel free to use any other cured meats, such as smoked bacon or coppa. In any case, brown it in a frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes on each side until it is as crispy as you like it. Another popular twist is to replace the meat with a mixture of smoked salmon and cooked spinach.

Assembly

Toast the English muffins and spread with butter. Lay one or two slices of bacon on top, then the eggs. Pour over some sauce and sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

Potatoes

See ‘home fries’ recipe.