Eggs Benedict is possibly one of my favourite Western breakfasts to indulge in, but also one of the dishes that I hardly ever make for myself and my family. Why? While it seems deceivingly easy to put together, eggs benedict is actually a dish that requires some techniques and patience to perfect. The poached eggs, for one, are hard to execute to perfection if you do not employ certain methods. The hollandaise sauce is the other difficult component, as it can easily break or curdle if not done well. Hollandaise sauce is such a heat-sensitive sauce that makes it hard to reheat – if you reheat it over too high a heat, you’ll see the sauce separate or turn lumpy. I believe this is a dish that even some chefs are daunted by. I’ve had my fair share of disappointing eggs benedict in restaurants where the egg yolk is overcooked to a firm, hard ball or the hollandaise sauce is a grainy, lumpy mess. The last two times I made eggs benedict, the results were less-than-ideal. This time round, I’ve figured out the crucial points to look out for to get foolproof eggs benedict! If you’ve never made that perfect plate of eggs benedict, try following these tips and I believe you’ll succeed.
Foolproof Poached Eggs
You have to use as fresh an egg as possible. Fresh eggs have less loose egg whites, which means you’ll have less of those wispy egg whites floating around in the water while poaching. How to check if your eggs are fresh? Simply drop them carefully in a jug of water and observe:
If your egg is very fresh, it should submerge to the bottom of the water and lay on its side.
If it’s slightly old but still edible, it will sink but stand on one end. If it floats, then you should consider throwing it away.
Even if the egg is fresh, it can still have loose egg whites which will cause the resultant poached egg to look ugly. What you can do is to strain the loose egg whites through a fine mesh. If you only have weeks-old eggs, strain the loose whites and you can still use them for poaching. But do note that using such eggs will result in smaller poached eggs.
Don’t use boiling water. Poached eggs are called poached for a reason – the water should never be at a rolling boil. Boiling water produces too many bubbles which will disrupt the egg from forming properly. Poaching temperature should be somewhere between 71°C to 82°C, where the water is barely simmering (hardly any bubbles).
Use a whisk or a spoon to create a whirlpool before sliding your egg into the water to poach. The vortex created will help the egg whites wrap around the yolk better, forming a tighter poached egg.
After poaching for 3-4 minutes, remove poached egg. You can trim the poached egg into a neater shape if necessary. If not serving the poached egg immediately, you can keep the poached egg in an ice water bath, then reheat the poached egg in barely simmering water before serving.
Foolproof Hollandaise Sauce
Add egg yolk, lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper to a jug.
Then drizzle hot melted butter into the jug bit by bit and blend continuously until all the butter has been added. The blender method is the simplest way to get foolproof hollandaise sauce. You can do the traditional method of whisking by hand but I personally feel that that method has a lot of room for errors.
Assembly of Eggs Benedict
You can use butter rolls (which I used) or English muffins. Cut them into half, brush butter on and toast them in a pan.
Toast until browned and crispy, or to your own liking.
Place smoked salmon and poached egg on top of the butter rolls, then drizzle hollandaise sauce over. Garnish with black pepper and chives if desired.
Crispy, buttered buns – check. Runny egg yolks – check. Smooth, creamy hollandaise sauce – check. This is what I call successful eggs benedict!
Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon
- 1 butter roll $0.35
- 2 fresh eggs $0.40
- 1 egg yolk $0.10
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice $0.10
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste
- 45 g melted butter $0.876
- smoked salmon $2.60
- Strain eggs to get rid of loose egg whites. In a pot of barely simmering water, create a whirlpool using a whisk or spoon. Slide eggs in separately and poach for 3-4 minutes. Remove eggs and trim to desired shape if necessary. Keep eggs in an ice water bath if not serving immediately. Reheat eggs in hot water before serving.
- In a jug, add egg yolk, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and blend. Then drizzle in melted butter bit by bit and blend continuously until all the butter has been added. You should get a smooth hollandaise sauce.
- Cut the butter rolls into two, brush with butter and toast until brown and crispy in a pan. Assemble the eggs benedict and drizzle hollandaise sauce over. Garnish with chives and black pepper if desired.