Dazed by Hollandaise?
Two things define eggs Benedict: poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Learn these two steps, and any sort of Benedict is possible.
- Begin by poaching the eggs. Crack the egg first into a separate container, and then boil water with a tablespoon or two of vinegar added. Now stir the water in a wide circle and add the whole egg. The slightly acidulated water will set the eggs quickly, while the whirlpool of water will keep the egg in a ball. Poach at a simmer for four to five minutes for set whites and soft yolks.
- Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of eggs and butter. The eggs and butter must blend at just the right temperature--warm enough to melt the butter, but cold enough not to scramble the eggs--then stay at that temperature until served. The secret? A double-boiler and a thermos. Carefully read the recipe, use a bowl set over simmering (not boiling) water, and stir, stir, stir. Hollandaise does not like to be rushed. Take the time to make sure each step is done before moving on. The double-boiler ensures the eggs won't scramble as they heat, and the thermos ensures the sauce is held at an optimum temperature until served.
Dress It Up
Now is the time to get creative. Use favorite breads, meats, or veggies to make up a new personal favorite.
- English muffins are the standard bread at the base of eggs Benedict. Their chewy texture contrasts nicely with the eggs, and helps absorb the sauce. But don't get stuck on English muffins. Plain toast is often cited as the original bread for eggs Benedict, and any toasted bread, from focaccia to challah, is excellent.
- A slice of Canadian bacon often comes next. But again, substitutions are more than welcome. Ham, bacon, pancetta, and prosciutto can all be used. Sometimes seafood is added--smoked salmon, crab cakes, or scallops. For a vegetarian option, spinach is common, making it eggs Florentine, or asparagus, lightly fried firm tofu, avocado, or just melted cheese.