Eggs Benedict

Good news: there are new and better ways to make them at home.

We had a birthday breakfast to celebrate and nothing less than ‘Eggs Benedict’ would suffice. The reason I rarely make them at home is that they are complicated, fussy and finicky – none of which are attractive characteristics for a breakfast food.  Here are some ideas to make Eggs “B” easier, simpler and more reliable – and some variations on the classic to make them more modern and interesting.

The traditional Eggs Benedict recipe calls for half a toasted English muffin, topped with Canadian Bacon, a poached egg and lemony hollandaise sauce.  One of the most memorable wedding presents we received came from a great aunt who lived on Park Avenue.  It was a grand copper double boiler with a ceramic insert – and her handwritten recipe for hollandaise sauce.  She was a welcoming hostess, and hollandaise was her signature. I still treasure the pan, but I think she would approve of these shortcuts.  Aunt Leslie’s tip: Sprinkle chopped chives or other herbs on top of the hollandaise for a gourmet presentation.

Using sous vide poached eggs and blender hollandaise sauce or some new poaching gadgets, you can produce breakfast for a crowd with most of it made ahead and not be subject to the last-minute whisking, separating and ice cubes that I associate with hollandaise.

I am a big fan of sous vide cooking – and it is a great method for making perfectly poached eggs – cooked right in their shells.   You can re-heat them in the shells and them crack open just when you assemble the benedict.

Sous Vide Poached Egg recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

Large fresh eggs, cold from the fridge, with no cracks

Salt and pepper

Directions

    1. Using sous vide circulator, bring 4-inches water to 167°F/75°C in 7-quart pot or Dutch oven. Using slotted spoon, gently lower eggs into the water bath, cover, and cook for 12 minutes. Experiment. If your egg is too runny, leave it in the sous vide water for 13+ minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to ice bath and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 1 minute. When you want to assemble your Benedict, crack open the shells and use your poached eggs.

Make ahead: Eggs can be cooked, chilled in an ice bath for 10 minutes, and refrigerated for up to five days. To reheat, lower eggs into water bath set to 140°F/60°C and cook until heated through, at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour, then crack into bowls as directed.

Julia Child’s Easy Blender Hollandaise recipe by Tory Avey

Simple hollandaise sauce made with egg yolks, lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper. Inspired by Julia’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper (I use a small pinch of cayenne)
  • 1-2tbsp fresh lemon juice (I use closer to 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2cup unsalted butter

Instructions

    1. This sauce should be prepared immediately before serving– it will only take you about 3 minutes to make. Place eggs yolks, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp lemon juice in the blender jar. You can beat in more lemon juice to taste when your sauce is done, and then you will know which proportion you prefer for next time.
    2. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a small saucepan. Heat it till it’s melted, hot and foamy.
    3. Cover the jar of the blender and blend the egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds. Uncover, still blending at top speed, and immediately start pouring the hot melted butter in a thin stream of droplets. (You may need to protect yourself with a towel during this operation.)
    4. By the time two thirds of the butter has gone in, the sauce will be a thick cream. Omit the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. Taste the sauce, and blend in more seasonings and lemon juice to taste.
    5. If not used immediately, set the blender jar in tepid (lukewarm), but not warm, water. Use the sauce within a few minutes of blending or it will solidify.
    6. Use hollandaise to top any number of delicious dishes.

4 servings, prep time 2 minutes, cook time 3 minutes

RAW EGG NOTE: This sauce uses uncooked egg yolks. This is not an unusual practice (most Caesar Salad recipes contain uncooked egg), but it does carry a small amount of risk. I’ve been told that the friction of the blender and the scalding hot butter “cook” the egg during emulsion, but to be on the safe side I need to offer this cautionary note – use caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Be adventurous and try variations on the basic Eggs Benedict recipe.  Use smoked salmon or crab, crab cakes in place of the Canadian bacon. Add vegetables with a roasted portobello mushroom, avocado, artichoke hearts, crispy onion rings or asparagus. Go all American with crispy bacon strips or go gourmet with prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears.  Feeling Southern? Use a biscuit instead of English muffin.

This Lighter Version of Eggs Benedict from the Kitchen is a reasonable alternative to the full on indulgence of Eggs Benedict.

Eggs Benedict Recipe

  1. Preheat to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon strips in a single layer. Cook on the middle rack for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the slices reach your desired crispness. (For Eggs Benedict, I like it a little less crispy than usual, so 20 minutes usually works for me.) Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and discard foil.
  2. Arrange the English muffin halves on a separate baking sheet. Cook until toasted and lightly golden, about 8-10 minutes. Spread with softened butter, if desired. Lower oven temp to 170° (or warming temperature). Hold English muffins and bacon until eggs are poached and ready to assemble.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, fill a medium to large saucepan with 1-1/2 to 2 inches of water and 2 teaspoons white vinegar. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low; water should maintain a few small occasional bubbles. Crack each egg into a small dish (I use a small sake glass), partially submerge the dish in the pan, and tip the egg into water. Cook until the whites are set and opaque, but yolks are still runny, about 2 minutes. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Trim any excess whites, if desired. Here is a tutorial on poaching eggs. (Note: Eggs can be poached ahead of time and the re-warmed in hot water just before serving.)
  4. To make the mock hollandaise, whisk the mayonnaise, Dijon, and lemon juice. Melt the butter and stir in quickly. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a generous amount of cayenne pepper.
  5. To assemble the Eggs Benedict, top each muffin half with a handful of spinach, followed by a tomato slice, a piece of bacon split in half, and a poached egg. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with additional salt, pepper, and paprika. Serve immediately.

Eggs Benedict Egg Poaching Gadgets

Hook these poachers over the edge of the pan and adjust the depth of the handle to rest egg in the bowl of the poacher in boiling water. Dishwasher safe on the top shelf. Cuisipro Egg Poaching Set.  $16.00

Stainless Steel and Ceramic Poach Pods

Poachpods float in boiling water with the eggs poaching in the bowl. PFOA and PTFE free ceramic coating, BPA Free, dishwasher safe, is not microwave safe. Fusionbrands PoachPod Ceramic Coated Non-Stick Egg Poaching Cup, White, 2 pack.  $22

Eggs Benedict Poaching Pods

Silicone Poach Pods

These flexible silicone poach pods float in boiling water to cook eggs.  When cooked, flip the cup inside out to release the egg.  Poach Pods can also be used for baking and molding.  Two silicone poach pods. $9.95.

Oxo Silicone Egg Poachers form eggs into a perfect round shape. You drop the egg through the top hold and the egg cooks inside the perforated bottom section.  The water flows evenly around the egg.  High-heat resistant silicone is easy to clean and collapses for compact storage.  BPA free and dishwasher safe.  OXO, Silicone Egg Poachers, Set of 2, Yellow. $9.95

Williams Sonoma Egg Poacher Set of 2

These perforated silicone baskets keep eggs yolks from breaking.  Use the folding handle to safely lift the basket out of the hot water. These baskets can also be used in the Instant Pot.

Williams Sonoma Egg Poacher Set of 2, $19.95

This Demeyere stainless steel egg poaching pan is a classic.  Four eggs cups. $49.96.

How to make poached eggs in an InstaPot.

A double boiler of old-school hollandaise, also known as ‘proper hollandaise’.  This Mauviel Copper Double Boiler Porcelain Insert is similar to the one given to us my great aunt.  It does make great hollandaise.  Mauviel Copper Double Boiler with porcelain Insert, 1-Qt.  $325.

This ASE Sous Vide Article explains the cooking method and suggests tools.