Eggs Benedict

Producing Eggs Benedict for a group for brunch can be a daunting prospect.  However, when you break down the steps and do some of them ahead, the dish becomes much more manageable.  I like to poach my eggs and clarify the butter the day before.  Yes, you can poach eggs ahead - you simply drop them into a bowl of iced water when they are cooked.  When you are ready to use them, drain the cold water and replace it with hot - not boiling - water and allow them to sit for a few minutes.

Breaking the raw eggs into a sieve and allowing the watery part of the white to drain away makes for a perfectly shaped poached egg without any of those stray, wispy bits of white that need to be trimmed.

Clarified butter is easily made in the microwave. I like this method because I can see when the milk solids have settled.  Apart from use in Hollandaise Sauce, clarified butter is great for frying.  It can take a higher heat because it is the milk solids which burn and cause black spots when you use whole butter to fry.  It is also promoted as being healthier.

Hollandaise Sauce is one of the great classic sauces.  It has a reputation for being finicky to make but all it really needs is your constant attention.  A heavy round-bottomed pan, called a saucier, is a great asset since there are no corners for the sauce to lurk in and overcook.  But if you are careful to get your whisk into the corners of your pan, you can make it in any pan.  Whisking the eggs with lemon juice - fresh please! - and water until they are thick enough to coat the back of a spoon is the important first step.  Once you have accomplished that, add the clarified butter and drop or two at a time to start with and then a little more quickly, whisking all the time and you have a perfect Hollandaise.

In addition to Eggs Benedict, Hollandaise is great with asparagus and broccoli.  
You can vary it by replacing the water with orange juice in the beginning step, and adding an addition tablespoon of orange juice and a teaspoon of finely grated orange zest at the end with the salt and pepper.  You now have Sauce Maltaise!

Warm your poached eggs, toast English Muffins, heat some Canadian Bacon and you are ready to serve Eggs Benedict.


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