Eggs Benedict is the quintessential dish served at a Jazz Brunch in New Orleans. What better way to welcome the new year and to serve as a prelude to the upcoming Carnival Season than with Classic Eggs Benedict? Although there are conflicting accounts of the origins of Eggs Benedict, most agree that it first appeared in the late 1800’s in New York City. Others, however, argue that it had its roots in 19th century France. Whatever its origins, Classic Eggs Benedict remains an elegant brunch dish in New Orleans and elsewhere.
Classic Eggs Benedict consists of a split English muffin that is buttered and lightly toasted, topped by Canadian Bacon or ham, a poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce. It’s not exactly low calorie, but for an occasional splurge, it makes the perfect dish for an elegant brunch. Let me start with the Hollandaise sauce.
Making the Hollandaise Sauce for the Classic Eggs Benedict:
There are many different approaches to making Hollandaise sauce. I like to use Julia Child’s approach detailed in The Way to Cook as opposed to one of the often touted “fool-proof” methods. The reason is that Julia’s approach is consistently perfect, but my experience with the “fool-proof” methods is less than perfect!
I used the following ingredients for the Hollandaise sauce: Egg yolks, unsalted butter, fresh lemon juice, and salt.
I started by beating the egg yolks in a small saucepan with my electric mixer on high until the egg yolks were thick and pale. This took several minutes. Then, I added 2 tablespoons of cold butter cut into pieces and the lemon juice to the egg yolks. I placed the saucepan on a low burner, and started whisking the mixture until it thickened. This took another several minutes. Once the mixture had thickened, I removed the pan from the heat, and added 2 more tablespoons of cold butter, a tablespoon at a time. I continued whisking the mixture until the butter had melted. This served to stop the egg yolks from cooking anymore. Next, I whisked in melted butter in driblets. Once all of the butter had been incorporated, I seasoned the Hollandaise sauce with some salt. I thought that the Hollandaise sauce was a bit too thick, so I whisked in some water to bring it to the perfect consistency. I set the pan over a very low heat while the Master Taste Tester made the poached eggs. By the way, remember that I told you that this wasn’t exactly low calorie!
Making the Poached Eggs for the Classic Eggs Benedict:
There are as many approaches to making the perfect poached egg as there are to making the perfect Hollandaise sauce. The approach that the Master Taste Tester has used successfully for years is simple and always produces perfect results. He always uses eggs straight from the refrigerator.
First, he fills a small non-stick pan with water, and adds about a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Then, he heats the water to boiling over high heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, he reduces the heat to medium. He carefully cracks the eggs into the water, and uses a slotted spatula to move them around so that they don’t stick to the bottom. Half way through the cooking, he carefully flips the eggs, and cuts away any streaky white with the spatula. After a total of 4-1/2 minutes, he removes the perfectly cooked eggs from the water with the slotted spatula, and drains them on paper towels. As an aside, the fresher the eggs, the less the streaky white stuff from the poached egg
While the Master Taste Tester was poaching the eggs, I lightly toasted split and buttered English muffins, and heated the Canadian Bacon/ham in a skillet. The reason that I used both Canadian Bacon and ham was that I had both. Either one alone would have also worked. I placed the Canadian Bacon/ham on the English muffin, which the Master Taste Tester topped with the poached egg.
Serving the Classic Eggs Benedict:
To complete the Classic Eggs Benedict, I spooned Hollandaise sauce over the top of the poached eggs.
I finished the Classic Eggs Benedict with a sprinkling of minced fresh parsley. They were absolutely delicious! Yum!