It’s our Christmas Eve tradition that I make a brunch of Eggs Benedict for my wife which is not named after either Benedict Arnold or the Jeffersons’ British neighbor, but allegedly named after a New Yorker named Lemuel Benedict who wandered into the Waldorf Hotel and asked for eggs, bacon, toast, and a shot of Hollandaise as a hangover cure.
Here’s the recipe I use for anyone who’d also like to give it a try. This recipe serves three, or six people if you’re serving it with a side dish, or one person if they’re really hungry and are trying to send their cholesterol level off the charts.
You will need:
- About three billion eggs, or maybe only a dozen
- A pound of butter (or two eight ounce sticks) at room temperature
- Six tablespoons of lemon juice
- Three English muffins (which are neither English nor muffins)
- Wooden shoes
First halve and toast the English muffins. Classic Eggs Benedict calls for a slice of ham on the English muffin halves, but for some that may be too much. Tasty alternatives include slices of avocado or smoked salmon or nothing or whatever you want.
Poach six eggs. If you have an egg poacher you can use that. I’ve also poached the eggs by adding water and a small amount of vinegar to a shallow pan, but that’s tricky because you have to keep the water just below boiling. Place an egg on each of the English muffin halves.
You can now set this aside in a warm oven.
The Hollandaise sauce is the hard part, but it comes together quickly. Oh, wait, that’s why it’s hard. This ain’t a recipe you can walk away from. First separate the yolks from the whites or, to be more accurate, from the clears. It’s okay to leave some of the clear with the yolks. Since this version of Hollandaise sauce is basically a savory lemon custard some albumen will help it hold together.
Combine the egg yolks and the lemon juice in a pan over low heat.
Add half the butter. Stir slowly.
Once the butter is melted continue stirring for about a minute then add the second half of the butter. Stir vigorously. At this point the eggs will start to cook and the sauce will thicken. This is when you have to work fast. Just after the butter is completely melted the sauce is culinary nitroglycerine. It won’t blow up but it is seriously unstable. Get it off the heat and evenly distribute it over the English muffin halves and poached eggs.
For some color sprinkle on a little paprika or some parsley or both for a seasonal red and green effect. In fact this is a recipe and those aren’t written in stone, so if you want to substitute actual muffins and Cadbury chocolate eggs go for it.
Serve on hubcaps because there’s no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise.