Two of my hens are laying regularly again finally, with the third just getting over her broodiness. They’ll likely slow down for the winter but I had 18 eggs in the fridge after gathering the two new ones today! I hard-boiled up a few and decided to make Eggs Benedict for dinner.
I used the recipes in Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home for Hollandaise Sauce and for poaching eggs. Apparently Julia liked these little gadgets to keep the eggs shaped prettily but my free-form ones a la Jacques turned out quite pretty–and more importantly, quite delicious!
Timing on a dish like this can be critical so I tried to think how to get as much done ahead of time. I got the slices of ham out, got the English muffins out and separated them and put them in the toaster. Started a large skillet with 2″ of water in it plus 1 Tbs of vinegar to boil. Separated the eggs for the Hollandaise sauce and kept out the eggs for the poaching.
I had to laugh when I read Jacques Pepin saying to use the freshest eggs possible. Okay! I used the ones laid today and yesterday. Can’t get much fresher! I used my “older” eggs (from last week) for the sauce.
I made the Hollandaise sauce first, then poached the eggs while the muffins were toasting and put the sauce back on the ultra low burner to stay lukewarm. I’ve made the blender version of Hollandaise sauce before, which you can do if this scares you. But this came out good and was not hard. And I didn’t need a double boiler. The ingredients list is just about the same and a pan and whisk are easier to clean than a blender. 😉
Hollandaise Sauce a la Jacques Pepin
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 Tbs water
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 6-8 ounces butter very soft (he called for unsalted but I only had salted)
- salt and pepper to taste I didn't add any since I used salted butter
- cayenne pepper
- In a heavy saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, water and lemon juice together for a minute or so. Put the pan over moderately low heat and whisk continuously, making sure to get into the edges of the pan. I found it useful to sometimes tilt the pan sideways while I whisked.
- I always wonder how I'll know when something like this done, because you basically want to cook the egg yolks gently but NOT overcook them. Pepin said you would notice the yolks get thick and smooth and would see the bottom of the pan while you were whisking. Well, I could see the bottom of the pan when I first started so that didn't help much, but after a few minutes I definitely could see the yolks getting thicker and then I could see WIDE stripes of the bottom of the pan. I cooked and whisked another minute to be sure.
- Turn off the heat (and if you're on an electric stove remove the pan from the heat), then add in a small chunk of the softened butter and whisk it in. Keeping adding butter, a chunk at a time, whisking thoroughly each time. I stopped at about 6 ounces and added a dash of cayenne pepper, stirred and tasted. This is when you would add more salt and pepper. I added a few more drops of lemon juice to perk it up a bit.
- I left this off the heat and whisked now and then, but then put back on low heat when the eggs were about halfway through
Use a large deep skillet, with about 2 inches of water. Heat the water along with 2 Tbs or so of white vinegar.
Have a bowl of warm tap water ready. You’ll slide the eggs into this to rinse off the vinegar.
Bring the water to a boil, then slip the eggs into the water. To keep them together as much as possible you can put crack the egg into a small saucer and then slide it into the water. This time I just cracked the egg and opened it very close to the water. With fresh eggs, the whites will stay closer together so it’s easier. With less fresh eggs, you can use a spoon or something to sort of pull the whites back together. Either way, after a few seconds, you want to make sure the eggs are not stuck to the bottom of the pan. You want them to cook in the water. Pepin said to drag a spoon across the top of the eggs and that didn’t make sense to me at first. Instead, I started by taking my slotted spoon and dislodging the egg from the bottom of the pan, making sure it could move around. But then I realized by rubbing the spoon across the top of the egg, where the white had just started to set, it gently pulled itself from the bottom of the pan. However you can make it work you want the egg surrounded by water, not stuck to the bottom!
Cook the eggs about 4 minutes at a low simmer.
Start your toast or English muffins. This is also when I moved the Hollandaise back over a very low heat.
Lift with a slotted spoon into the bowl of warm tap water.
Put the toast or English muffins on the plate and top with a slice of ham (or Canadian bacon). Put a poached egg on top and spoon the Hollandaise sauce on top and serve.