How to Make Perfect Eggs Benedict from Scratch
How to Make Perfect Eggs Benedict from Scratch
by Jacqueline Samaroo
Intimidating, daunting and perhaps downright scary – that’s how most of us view the idea of making eggs Benedict. After all, it not only requires that you make the perfect poached egg but there’s also that tricky hollandaise sauce to deal with.
Well, it turns out that for both poaching an egg and making hollandaise sauce there are extremely helpful tips and tricks that even the most novice of chefs can easily master. So, what does that mean? It’s eggs Benedict time, of course!
Once you have tried the techniques outlined here you’ll be whipping up batches of perfect eggs Benedict from scratch anytime you get slightest yearning for it – which will be pretty often from now on, I’m guessing.
Dissecting Eggs Benedict
The four main ingredients for true eggs Benedict are toasted and buttered halves of an English muffin, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and bacon.
If you don’t have English muffins then slices of bread can substitute. You could even cut them in rounds to make the completed dish look more authentic. For the bacon, Canadian or streaky bacon will do as well ham, chorizo, smoked salmon or any similar meats.
Now, toasting bread and cooking bacon are simply enough to do, so the main issues are really poaching the egg and making the hollandaise sauce. Before we go any further, it seems only fair to point out that you can make “sort of eggs Benedict” using a fried egg and a different (easier) sauce.
Egg cooker rings will give you perfectly round fried eggs to match your English muffins and an avocado sauce does nicely as a hollandaise stand-in. Even after you master the authentic eggs Benedict, the fried eggs and avocado sauce version sounds tasty enough to give it a try, too.
Poaching eggs looks harder than it really is and is much easier to do with fresh eggs rather than ones a week or more old. Another popular and very helpful tip is to add a little vinegar to the poaching water so that the white sets quickly and you don’t freak out at the sight of all those threads of egg white floating around in the water.
If you would rather not use the vinegar, there are several ways to go about getting perfectly poached eggs without vinegar. Here is a quick rundown of a few of these:
- Use the microwave– Crack the egg into half a teacup of water, cover and microwave for about a minute. Just be prepared for a couple of initial misses as you figure out the proper power setting and number of minutes to suit your microwave oven.
- Ms. Child knows best– Julia Child’s trick involves using a pin to prick a hole in the bigger end of the egg. You then put the egg to boil for ten seconds, cool it down a bit and crack it into a pot of gently simmering water.
- Plastic wrap, anyone?– Though not yielding the prettiest result, some people swear by this method as being the most fool proof. Crack the egg into a cup lined with plastic wrap. Gather up the ends of the plastic and tie them. Poach the egg in the “bag” in simmering water and cut it out when done.
- Classical– Crack the egg into a small container. Get the water to a gentle simmer and stir it to make a vortex in the center. Carefully pour the egg out into the vortex and LEAVE IT to poach.
Strain away your troubles– In this method the egg is cracked into a strainer which allows the loose and bothersome whites to pass through. The remaining egg is then gently turned out into simmering water to poach.
The Hollandaise Sauce
Traditionally, making hollandaise sauce means pulling out your double broiler or fashioning one from a pot and bowl. You then need to learn how to whisk eggs vigorously with one hand while you gently pour hot butter with the other hand. And – there’s a lot that can go wrong (a lot!).
No wonder people who wish to make eggs benedict from scratch at home tend to forego it because making the sauce is just too much effort or stress. Fortunately, there’s an easy way around that – you can make hollandaise sauce in your blender or by using an immersion blender, if you have one.
You will need:
egg yolks (2 simple techniques for separating eggs are at the end of this article)
freshly squeezed lemon juice
hot melted butter
pepper (white pepper, cayenne pepper or any that suits your taste)
Technique #1 – Stand Blender
- Place the egg yolks in the blender.
- Add lemon juice and salt.
- Blend on medium for a few seconds until the color of the eggs begin to lighten.
- Set the blender on low and SLOWLY pour in the hot melted butter.
- Stir in pepper and more lemon juice and salt as needed.
(Note: The hot butter cooks the egg yolks. By adding it slowly and keeping the blender running you are preventing the eggs from scrambling, as well as allowing the butter and egg yolks to mix completely and not separate later on.)
Technique #2 – Immersion Blender
- Place the egg yolks in a cup just wide enough to fit the immersion blender.
- Add water, lemon juice and salt.
- Start the blender to beat the eggs.
- SLOWLY add the hot melted butter as you continue to blend
When You’re Feeling More Confident …
I always say “Try everything in the kitchen at least once!” So, if you would like to give the traditional method of making hollandaise sauce a try, here is a great, easy-to-follow instructional video complete with helpful tips.
How to Separate an Egg
- Crack the egg in the middle.
- Hold the egg over a bowl and use your fingers to break the halves of the shell apart and keep them close together at first.
- You’ll notice that one half has just egg white and the other has the yolk with some white.
- Pour out the white from the first half and then pour the yolk into that empty half shell allowing the white to fall into the bowl.
- Keep pouring the yolk back and forth from one half shell to the other until no white is left with it.
- Pour the yolk into a different bowl and move on to the next egg.
How to Separate an Egg – Using a Plastic Bottle
Check out this extremely cool way to separate eggs using a plastic bottle. Don’t just watch amazed – give it a try!
- Darren Clunie