Eggs Benedict is the quintessential dish served at a Jazz Brunch in New Orleans. What better way to celebrate Mardi Gras 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!
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 ounces butter (4 tablespoons) unsalted cold, divided
- 5 ounces butter (1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons) unsalted and melted
- 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 4 large eggs straight from refrigerator
- Small non-stick skillet filled with water
- 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
- 4 English muffins split, buttered and lightly toasted
- 4 slices Canadian Bacon and/or ham heated in skillet
- 4 poached eggs
- Hollandaise Sauce
- Minced fresh parsley for garnish optional
- Hollandaise Sauce: Beat egg yolks in small saucepan with electric mixer on high until thick and pale, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces, and lemon juice. Place saucepan over low heat and whisk mixture until the egg yolks have thickened and the bottom of the pan is visible between the strokes, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter, a tablespoon at a time. Whisk in melted butter in driblets to make a thick sauce. If desired, add more lemon juice to taste. Add salt. If the Hollandaise sauce needs thinning, whisk in water to the desired consistency.
- Yield: 1 cup.
- Poached Eggs: Add cider vinegar to water in small skillet. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully crack eggs into water; loosen bottom with slotted spatula. After 2 minutes, flip eggs and cut away streaky whites with spatula. Cook an additional 2-1/2 minutes (for a total of 4-1/2 minutes). Remove from water with slotted spatula; drain on paper towels.
- Classic Eggs Benedict: Top each half of English muffin with Canadian Bacon and/or ham. Place poached egg on top of Canadian Bacon and/or ham. Spoon on Hollandaise Sauce. Garnish with minced fresh parsley. Serve immediately. Yield 2 servings.