Tawn and I enjoy poached eggs and find Eggs Benedict to be a nice weekend brunch treat. For some reason, though, we haven’t had a lot of luck learning how to poach eggs. Everyone has a special secret or tip to share – put vinegar in the water, stir the water in a clockwise motion before introducing the eggs, use only the freshest eggs, put the unopened egg in the hot water for ten seconds to firm up the whites – but we still come up with wildly inconsistent results. So we recently bought a non-stick poaching tray and set about learning to make Hollandaise sauce.
The Hollandaise sauce was surprisingly easy, employing a technique similar to making the wonderful French dessert sabayon, also known in Italian as zabagione. You whisk egg yolks with lemon juice (I managed to use a little too much, thanks to eyeballing it rather than measuring) in a baine-marie – a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. The gentle heat of the steam cooks the eggs slowly and as you whisk them, you keep them from scrambling.
Then, once doubled in volume, you add a stream of melted butter, whisking all the while to emulsify, or incorporate, the butter into the egg yolk mixture. This produces a thick, rich sauce that can then be seasoned with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
On the back burner, the sauce is set to a low heat to keep it warm and I’ll add a few teaspoons of water to thin it out before serving. The egg poacher in on the front burner, with simmering water halfway up its side. In about four minutes, the eggs will be nicely done with firm whites and liquid, but warm, yolks. On the right, Tawn fries some ham slices.
The finished Eggs Benedict, employing a slice of homemade whole grain bread in lieu of an English muffin, accompanied with some fresh papaya. Tasty.