Paul and I have been watching Season 4 of Masterchef, which is quite possibly my favorite TV show. It’s a cooking contest between home cooks, judged by chefs Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.
One of the highlights of this season is the show’s active Twitter presence. Each contestant and judge has a Twitter handle, and the show frequently “suggests” hashtags while you’re watching. (#joesmom will always be my favorite.) It’s been a lot of fun to follow along on Twitter–Graham even replied to one of my tweets a few weeks ago! (Still trying to get one from Gordon…)
Eggs always make an appearance in at least one of the pressure tests, and after we watched the contestants poach, griddle, toast and whisk through the Eggs Benedict challenge, Paul asked if I’d try making it for him.
It’s a simple dish–although the Hollandaise can be tricky–but everyone has their own opinion on the best order of the steps. Here’s my approach, using Julia Child’s incredibly easy recipe for a blender Hollandaise sauce (I kid you not!).
- 2 English muffins
- 4 slices Canadian bacon
- 4 whole eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon’s worth)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- dash cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 stick butter
- ground black pepper, to taste
- Put a wide pan of about 3 inches of water on the stove (no salt, but you can add a tablespoon or so of vinegar if you want) and begin to bring it to a boil.
- Place an empty skillet on the stove as well. Split the English muffins and place them in the toaster (but don’t start toasting yet). Place a bowl of lukewarm water next to the pan of water to hold your poached eggs.
- Prep the eggs. Crack four eggs into individual ramekins, mugs, measuring cups or other small containers. These will be your poached eggs. Separate the remaining three eggs and place the yolks in the blender. Add the lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper and set aside.
- Cut the butter into tablespoons and add to a small sauce pan. Place the pan over low heat and heat until warm and foamy, checking occasionally. Don’t let the butter brown or burn.
- When the water boils, turn the heat down to low until it barely simmers. Slip the eggs in slowly one at a time, paying close attention to the order you add them. Don’t crowd the pan! Do them in two batches if you need to.
Poach for about 3 minutes and 45 seconds (this timing will give you a warm, thickened yolk that’s still runny; cook longer for a firmer one), then lift out with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of lukewarm water.
- As soon as the eggs go in, start toasting the English muffins. (You do not want to be waiting for the base of the dish once everything else is done! You can leave them in the toaster to stay warm once they pop up.) Turn the skillet burner to medium-low heat.
- When the skillet is warm, add the Canadian bacon and cook 1-2 minutes per side. Continue to keep an eye on the poached eggs as you do this. When the bacon is done, remove from the heat and leave it in the warm skillet (or, you can do what I did and top the muffins with the ham and keep them in a warm toaster oven until ready to use).
- When all the eggs are cooked and everything else is done, make the Hollandaise. Remove the saucepan of butter from the stove and take it with you to the blender.
- Place the lid on the blender without the center insert. Blend the yolks, lemon juice and seasonings until smooth (just a few seconds). Keep the blender running and slowly pour a thin stream of melted butter through the top. Leave the last bit of butter with the milk solids in the pan.
Once the butter is in, stop the blender, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
- Plate the dish! Place a split English muffin on each plate and top each half with a slice of Canadian bacon, followed by a poached egg. (You can drain the eggs briefly on a paper towel or a slice of bread before you plate them.)
Spoon Hollandaise over the top of each. Garnish with chives and/or a sprinkle of black pepper. Serve immediately.
This was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever made. It was absolutely delicious, and better than any Eggs Benedict I’ve had at a restaurant (maybe I’m going to the wrong restaurants?). The Hollandaise came out perfectly–bright, lemony, smooth–and it really makes the dish.
It’s not an all-the-time food, but Eggs Benedict has definitely joined my short list of special-occasion foods.