Sunday, September 02, 2007

Eggs Benedict

I became ambitious this morning and decided to make Eggs Benedict. I had never made Hollandaise sauce (except for the dreadful stuff from a Knorr’s box many, many years ago) and even needed to look up the technique for poaching eggs.

For the base, I used buttered and toasted baguette slices. Instead of Canadian bacon, I tried prosciutto.

Basically, I slid a cracked egg into boiling water with a tiny amount of vinegar for a couple of minutes to get it poached. The water became cloudy and it was tough to see but not bad for a first attempt. The harder part was timing the poaching with the sauce making and topping the bread and prosciutto with the slippery beasts.

I referred to Grace Parisi’s Get Saucy cookbook for the Hollandaise recipe. I took two egg yolks and placed them in a medium-sized stainless steel bowl. I let the egg yolks come to room temperature. In the meantime I got a pot and filled it about ¼ full of water, place it on the stove, and turned it on high to get the water boiling. I also took out 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, cut them into pats and put them back into the refrigerator. A couple of other prep items – squeezing out the juice from ½ of a lemon and mincing up about a tablespoon of fresh chives and adding a sprinkling of cayenne pepper to the chives. To the egg bowl I added a sprinkling of salt and a tablespoon of cold water and whisked. When the water in the pot started to boil, I turned the heat down and placed the egg bowl on top and whisked until warm. I then started adding the butter pats, about 3-4 at a time, and whisked constantly as the butter incorporated (or emulsified) into the sauce. About half way through my sauce began to break up. Oh crap! (Actually, stronger expletives were released.) I remembered that Grace had a tip section several pages later explaining how to repair a broken sauce. I removed the sauce from the heat, added a tiny amount of cold water, and whisked again. And voila! The sauce was whole again. I realized that the heat from my water pot was way too hot. I turned the heat down to low and proceeded with incorporating the rest of the butter. Once I took care of all of the butter, I whisked in the chives and the lemon juice. I continued whisking while the eggs were poaching.
Since this was a holiday weekend we splurged and opened a bottle of Champagne – 2000 R. Dumont and Fils Brut from River City Cellars. What heaven! Very dry with a slight citrus character.

All in all, not bad. I learned two new techniques. The lemon in the sauce paired very well with the Champagne. I also liked the prosciutto. The recipe made much more sauce (about a cup) than I needed for two people, so I will probably try to cut it in half the next time. I still need to work on the timing and maintaining the proper temperature so my sauce will not need to be repaired.

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