Eggs Benedict in Ten Minutes

Eggs Benedict are the bane of my life. I’m just terrible at poaching eggs, but I love Eggs Ben. Yes, I can do the wrap in cling film and gently simmer method, but that’s not really a poached egg at all. Of course I blame the eggs; too old; too new; too watery, but whichever way I look at it, the result is an unpalatable mess. I add vinegar to my water, I create a whirlpool and my whole egg just flies in all directions. I gently pour the egg into a flat pan of water and the white spreads all over the surface, while the yolk sinks to the bottom. Let’s face it, I’m just useless at poaching an egg.

But now, dear friends, I have solved the mystery of the poached egg and produce consistently acceptable eggs. I say acceptable; not perfect, but presentable. AND they can be cooked easily, consistently and what’s more, they can be removed from the water without breaking.

I couldn’t find my slotted spoon, so I use a strainer.

Of course Eggs Ben is nothing without its sauce, so there’s another problem for the lazy, bleary eyed morning cook. Proper Hollandaise needs a reduction, a bain-marie (double boiler to the uninitiated) and time. I on the other hand want my breakfast in under fifteen minutes with as little fuss as possible and I think I’m not alone. That’s why I have invented The Five Minute Sauce Hollandaise, which I am introducing to you right now:

The Five Minute Sauce Hollandaise
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • white pepper
  • 25g butter
  • 1 Tbsp cream (or milk)

Put your butter into a saucepan and set it over low heat, directly on the flame. Break and separate your egg and put the yolk into a small bowl. Add the two teaspoons of white wine vinegar, the salt, pepper and sugar and mix it all together. No need to whisk, just stir to mix and you’re done. By not your butter should be just starting to bubble up.

Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the tablespoon of cream straight from the fridge. The whole thing will look like a curdled mess, but we are not worried about that. Now take a small whisk, drop the egg mix into the butter and cream thing and whisk it up. Set it back over a very low flame and whisk like your life depends on it, because it does. As soon as the mix thickens, take it off the heat, continue to whisk for another 30 seconds and pour the sauce back into the egg bowl. You’re done! What you are aiming for is the consistency of slightly flowy mayonnaise, so keep that in mind.

The Bottom of the Plate

Obviously, your eggs have to sit on something. Tradition dictates that it be toasted and topped with something smoked. As for as toast goes, you could use one of the following: Flaxseed Loaf or The Incomparable Toast will go well with your poached eggs and hollandaise. What you put on top of your toast is really up to you. I smoked cooked ham or smoked salmon, but I was out of both, so what you see on the pictures is Spanish Bellota ham. In fact it’s Paleta Iberico de Bellota, which you can acquire from https://www.mysybaritas.com/. It’s considerably cheaper than Jamon de Bellota and I find it much tastier. The difference between jamon and paleta is that the former is from the hind leg and the latter from the front leg of the acorn fed pig.

If you’re vegetarian, you could go for avocado mash with chopped shallots and Thai basil, or mushroom duxelles (that’s a long stewed diced mushroom thing), but I think a few thinnish slices of pan seared porcini or eringi mushrooms (that’s a king oyster mushroom) will be best. Now we are all set to poach our eggs!

The Poached Eggs:
  • 2 nice free range eggs
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

This is not a difficult recipe, but I have to admit that it’s equipment intensive. You’ve already used a saucepan, a bowl, a spoon a whisk and a plate and now you’re going to need another two spoon plus a slotted one if you have it, another saucepan or small pot, another three bowls and a strainer. The washing up is honestly going to take longer than the cooking and eating combined, but it will be worth it, I promise.

Bring your water to the boil. When I say boil, I really mean simmer. The lightest of bubbles rising is just what you want. Add the salt and vinegar right at the beginning, so you don’t have to think about that again. Place a small strainer over one of your three small bowls and break the first egg into the strainer. Leave it there for about a minute, then pour the egg into a second clean bowl. Repeat with egg number two, which you should pour into a third bowl. I recommend that you rinse the strainer immediately; dried egg white is a nightmare to get out of a strainer.

What happens here? The egg white is actually composed of two parts, the tighter white around the yolk and the very liquid white around that. We are getting rid of the flowy part, which tends to spread in the water and pull the tighter white with it.

Once the water is simmering, bring the first bowl with egg right to the surface of the water and gently slip the egg in. Give it 30 seconds and repeat with the second egg. Leave the eggs in the hot, but completely motionless water for exactly three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, gather up whatever bits of egg white may be sticking to the edges of the egg and scoop the whole egg out of the water. Set the spoon on a cloth or paper towel for a few seconds, just to get rid of excess water, then flip the egg upside down on the toast. Repeat with the second egg.

You can see how the egg on the right was strained properly, so there is very little loose white pulling free, while the one on the left wasn’t strained quite long enough. I did that on purpose, of course.

What I’m doing here is hiding the fact that my poached egg is not the perfect version, where the egg white envelops the yolk evenly by hiding the yolk under the white. Once the sauce has been poured over no one will notice that the egg is not perfect. You may wonder why I flip the eggs when the yolky side looks much better. It may look better before saucing, but after saucing, the thinness of the layer of white will show. Flip them and no one will look at the underside of the yolk! It’s called window dressing.

Spoon your hollandaise over the eggs and your breakfast is ready. You could dress this with chopped chives or other herbs, but it will do perfectly well on its own.

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