Recipe: Eggs Benedict

Wouldn't you want to wake up to these? 
If you know me, you'd know I looooove breakfast cookery. And someday, I'd love to have a bed and breakfast in the countryside, probably a cottage, overlooking a lake or even near Niagara Falls. I'd spoil my guests with breakfast items that will surely lure them out of their beds (Yes.... this has been my technique with my husband too. Easiest way to get him up early on the weekends - so I can later on convince him of my real plan of going to a farmer's market [insert evil laugh]. Believe me, it's tried and tested and guaranteed.)

Eggs Benedict (or sometimes called Eggs Benny or Bennies) is a beautiful marriage that is an open-faced sandwich traditionally composed of an English muffin topped with ham, a poached egg, and a dollop of hollandaise sauce.

You'd think by the name of this, it would've come from a count or a duke from Europe. But unfortunately this did not originate from the French or the British. Actually, there's no one true story about this dish. It was said it came from New York where a stockbroker named Benedict was curing a hangover. He requested this dish of toast topped with bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. Voila! The dish was born. Well, this was one version of the story. Another version of a claim to this dish was by the Benedict family that also lived in New York. She was a regular at one of the restaurants and would always order poached eggs on English muffins with a slice of ham and a good helping of hollandaise sauce with truffles. And voila again! The dish was born again! Haha. 😂 No matter who really had the actual and factual claim to this glorious dish, the world thanks you. All the drunken morning-strugglers in the world curing hangovers thank you as well.

I'm not too strict on the elements of the dish. I actually don't know why it specifically calls for "English muffins" but my best guess is because of their shape and the way it can hold the weight of the dish. If you don't have English muffins, that's okay. I sometimes use brioche slices, brioche bun bottoms, or even crumpets (these yummy and spongy English treats).

When it comes to the protein base, you can go nuts. I've tried the traditional eggs benny but wanted to try different variations as well. I've made it with tenderloin steak, smoked beef brisket, smoked salmon, pastrami, Canadian peameal bacon, round belly bacon, honey ham, and even shaved turkey ham.

Lastly, the Hollandaise Sauce. This gift to mankind is silky and divine when made correctly. Hollandaise is one of the 5 mother sauces used in professional cookery. It's basically an emulsion of egg yolk, clarified butter, and lemon juice whisked on low heat to achieve this silky perfection. If you're new at making this, you can use the double-boiler method (a bowl on top of boiling water on a sauce pot) or if you're comfortable working directly on the stove, go ahead. You'll just need to keep it at low heat or remove from the heat source at intervals to keep the temperature low and to avoid curdling of the egg yolk (yup, you can end up with scrambled egg yolks).

Eggs Benedict
This dish serves 2 portions - 2 bennies per serving. Go ahead and just multiply this dish if you're making it for a whole family. For this recipe, let's stick to honey ham to make it more traditional.

You'll need a stock pot, 2 sauce pots, a skillet, a sieve/strainer, 2 mixing bowls, a chopping board, a whisk, and a large spoon.

1 cup Hollandaise sauce (Ingredients and procedure below. There are some artisan shops that have already made Hollandaise sauces, I won't judge you if you use this to start. Although, making your own sauce will give you the chance to season to taste, and bragging points because hello (?!?!)... you made it.)

4 large eggs
1 tbsp white vinegar
5 cups water (for poaching)

2 English muffins, sliced in half (now you have 4 pieces)
2 tbsp butter

4 slices of honey ham
2 tsp butter

freshly ground black pepper

Hollandaise Sauce Ingredients
1 bar of butter, unsalted (this translates to 254g)

3 egg yolks
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

5 cups water (for double boiler method)

dash of tabasco or cayenne pepper (optional, I omit this just because I'm fine with the lemon taste)

salt and pepper to season

Hollandaise Sauce Procedure
1. On low heat, heat the bar of butter in a sauce pot until melted. Do not stir. Skim off the white milk solids. Once clear and pure butter gold liquid, this is now clarified butter. Set aside but keep warm.
2. Heat the water until boiling in a stock pot.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, water, and lemon juice until thick and becomes pale yellow colour. (The lemon serves as a pasteurization or sterilization agent to kills any bacteria in the egg yolk as well.)
4. Place the bowl on top of the boiling sauce pot and continue whisking while drizzling clarified butter slowly. Continue whisking while this cooks and thickens. You should have a silky and lump-free mixture. If the water is too hot, lower the heat.
5. Once the sauce is nappe (coats the back of the spoon), it's ready. Go ahead and season with tabasco, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper according to taste. Set aside but keep warm.

Eggs Benedict Procedure
1. Heat the water and vinegar in a stock pot on medium heat. This should reach about 71-85℃ for poaching - when you see little bubbles simmering. Crack eggs one at a time in a bowl and gently transfer egg to the poaching liquid. Let this cook for about 4-5 minutes to ensure it's still runny. Using a stainer, transfer to a plate with paper towel to suck up the remaining liquid. Repeat this process for all other eggs.
2. Heat the skillet to medium heat and add the butter, fry the honey ham for about 2 minutes a side. Set aside.
3. Butter the inner sides of each English muffin. On the same skillet used for the ham, place the English muffins (buttered sides down) for about 3 minutes until browned.
4. To assemble, place English muffins on a plate, top each with ham, then a poached egg, then spoon a dollop of the Hollandaise sauce. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.
5. Enjoy to the max!

For Variations: 
(1) Smoked Salmon - with cream cheese smeared on to the English muffin, sliced fresh avocados, then topped with the poached egg and hollandaise sauce
(2) Tenderloin - about a 3/4 of an inch cut, seasoned with salt and pepper and pepper, sear about 2-3 mins on each side, top with poached egg, hollandaise sauce, serve with buttered asparagus and seared grape tomatoes
(3) Montreal Smoked Meat (Brisket) - brisket dabbed with smoked dijon mustard, poached egg, then hollandaise sauce and served with a cabbage slaw (sorry... no picture for this one; we ate it too fast).
(4) Pastrami Keto Version - instead of the muffin as a base, I used asparagus (you can also use keto bagels or keto bread)

*As you see above, I don't like runny egg yolks. So I have it well-done. I know, I know. But I just can't.

**Mother Sauces - these are the fundamental sauces in French or professional cookery where all other variations are made. You've got the following:
(1) Veloute - a pale, blonde sauce made with pale stock, flour, and butter
(2) Bechamel - white dairy-based sauce made with milk, flour, and butter
(3) Hollandaise - butter sauce made of an egg emulsion 
(4) Brown Sauce - gravy-like sauce made of beef or veal broth with browned roux
(5) Tomato Sauce - simmered tomatoes traditionally with oregano, basil, and garlic

***Poaching is a technique where you cook an ingredient submerged in liquid at simmering temperature, around 71-85℃. If you don't have a thermometer, the best indication would be little bubbles dancing around the bottom of your pot or liquid. It should be a steady and continuous bubble dance. This should not be rolling or aggressive bubbles, that's boiling already.

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#honeyham #canadianbacon #peamealbacon #roundbacon 


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