Monday, January 29, 2018

Eggs Benedict

This is from my web site.

I just felt like getting off the woe is us bandwagon for a day or two.


Eggs Benedict depend upon two deceptively simple-sounding, but in actual fact, viciously difficult processes: whipping egg yolks with butter and poaching an egg.  (If the person preparing the dish has, as I do, a toaster oven that requires not quite two times through the toasting process – the full two times producing charcoal – toasting the English muffin can prove a bit dicey as well.)  This recipe is a hybrid of several that I have tried, both from the proportional component of ingredients and also from the standpoint of the processes involved.  My one  personal contribution is the quantity of lemon juice to be added: none of the recipes calls for enough.  Somewhere just short of the juice of half a lemon – but more than a third – produces a wonderfully lemony, but still richly eggy/buttery taste (I have found, subsequent to writing the preceding directions, that 2.5 tablespoons seems about right). The recipes I have encountered call for lemon juice quantities that produce something tasting somewhere between scrambled eggs that didn’t get done and mayonnaise.  But be careful, because anything over that about-a-third-but-a little-more makes it too lemony.  If you use anything but fresh lemon juice you might as well chalk the exercise up to training to see if you can do it without screwing up the butter and yolk mixing process and throw the results into the garbage disposal or feed them to the dog.  This recipe is for two servings of two eggs.  I go really long on Hollandaise, however, so one might stretch it to three servings, but that wouldn’t be much fun.  I have stress-tested this recipe by occasionally doubling the ingredients, and it still works. 


Three egg yolks
Quarter pound of butter that has been allowed to come to room temperature
Juice of one lemon (I juice the whole thing so I can do an eyeball-calibrated  pour of the juice into the eggs and butter.)
Canadian bacon
Jumbo eggs


Staging and readiness is everything in this recipe. 
In the following order do the following: put a plate in the oven at a low heat; fill your poaching pan with water and put it on an element and turn it on high; fill your double boiler with water and put it on an element and turn it on high; put a cast iron fry pan on an element; split the English muffin and put it in the toaster; separate the yolks from the whites on the three eggs destined for the sauce;  I used to save the whites for some future theoretic use, but since I don’t make meringues, and an omelet without yolks is such a grim endeavor, I faced facts and just throw them out;  I’m obviously not a cook; juice the lemon; put the Canadian bacon in the pan; turn down the poaching pan and the double boiler to low; crack the two jumbo eggs into a water glass; cover the Canadian bacon and turn the element on to high; touch the surface of the interior of the double boiler – where you are going to put the ingredients – to make sure that it is pretty hot; you want to get the yolks hot, but you don’t want to cook them; I use a single piece double walled boiler with a little snout where I put the water in; I can tell things are about right by seeing that the water is about to boil out of the snout; I want it to remain just short of boiling; in any event, when the boiler seems hot enough, turn off the element and depend on residual heat in the water to complete the blending process; you might judge it desirable to turn the element on occasionally during that process; that’s a sort of “feel” thing; when the Canadian bacon begins to sizzle turn it to low; the objective is to slightly caramelize the bacon.

Now you are going to jump into the throat of the funnel.
Put the yolks in the boiler and whip them until they seem to thicken – a little – and maybe a few bubbles appear around the edges.  By the time you are finished there will be some semi cooked and hardened yolk around the edge of the pan.  I haven’t figured out if it’s possible to avoid this, but I know you want to leave it alone; don’t try to blend it in – you will just add lumps to a sauce that is supposed to be without lumps.  When the yolks are as described, above, start adding the butter.  With a dinner knife cut pieces – about a sixth of the cube at a time – and add to the yolks and blend until it is melted and combined.  Repeat this process until all the butter has been added.  Whip a little longer to get the mix really smooth and maybe a little thickened – this would be a good time to consider turning on the heat, on low, again.  Then add the lemon juice.  The mix will turn from medium to dark yellow to a lighter tone.  Whip until the sauce thickens, keeping an eye on the heat or lack of it.  When the sauce is thick take it off the heat and put it on a back element.  Keep an eye on it because it will continue to thicken and before you put it on the eggs you may need to thin it with a LITTLE water.  If that is necessary you probably want to do so with the pan back on the element at low.  I find it best to perform this inspection and adjustment if necessary while the eggs are poaching.  The trick is to not thin it too much and cool it too much when you don’t have enough time to recover because the eggs are almost poached.

The poaching pan should have been bubbling along on low, so turning it up to high should bring it to a boil.  Start the toaster and when the muffins are close to being toasted, the water having been brought to a boil, dump the water glass of eggs into the water and turn the element to low and cover the poacher.  Eggs are weird and can’t be counted on to cook the same way in any sort of sequential lifetime pattern, so you have to watch them, which means taking the lid off and looking occasionally.  When they look somewhere near done I lift them gently to the surface of the water with a slotted spoon to see if the whites are too jiggly.  If the whites are somewhere near done the yolks should be hot but runny which is what you want.  So when the eggs are done turn off the heat, put the muffins on the plate; put the bacon on the muffins; put the eggs (you should have moved pretty quickly with the plate/muffin/bacon steps so that the eggs haven’t gotten over-done) on the bacon.

Pour the Hollandaise over the muffin/bacon/egg assembly.  If you have a double boiler like mine make sure that the snout is pointed uphill so you don’t pour water all over your eggs.

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