Eggs Benedict (Arnold?)

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at homemade Eggs Benedict ever since I tasted them for the first time last Easter. It was a chilly April morning—not the -30°C of six weeks earlier, but still a nippy 14° or so. Nevertheless, practical being that I am, I had declared spring with a summery dress and sandals. Sandals. My toes protested vociferously during the entire twenty-minute walk to church. I felt entirely vindicated after the service, however: the waiter at the small restaurant where my parents and I had brunch brought me Eggs Benedict with asparagus. If asparagus isn’t a sign of spring, I don’t know what is.

This is the first chance I’ve had since April to cook breakfast for a sufficiently large crowd to justify Eggs Benedict, and, even were I to don my sandals, I doubt I could fool any asparagus into thinking it’s spring. Fortunately, Eggs Benedict is a very flexible dish, accommodating everything from arugula to smoked salmon; more traditionally, the eggs are perched atop Canadian bacon. Canuck though I be, I’d rather mushrooms any day, so mushrooms it was.

This was my first real foray into sauce making. I had planned to go all the way and make the Hollandaise in a saucepan, but in the heat of battle, whilst juggling poaching eggs, sauteing mushrooms, and cooking English muffins, I decided it would be wiser to use the blender method.

Hollandaise Sauce

Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

  • 3 egg yolks (at room temperature)
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice*
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 C butter

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender and mix briefly. If you have a spatter proof blender, take off the inner lid and, with the blender running, slowly add the butter. Don’t add the milk solids that gather at the bottom of the pan.

If you aren’t using the sauce right away, you can keep it warm by pouring it into a glass or bowl inside a larger bowl full of warm water. I made mine at the last minute, so I didn’t need to do that.

* Julia Child’s recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, but that’s a little lemony for my taste. Experiment and see what you like.

Eggs Benedict with Mushrooms

  • 4 English muffins
  • 4 eggs (extra points if one of them is blue!)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 12 crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp butter
  • a pinch of thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Hollandaise sauce

Bring a wide pan of water at least 2 inches deep to a boil. Add the vinegar. Turn down the heat, pull the pan off the heat, and swirl the water around with a spoon so that it forms a little whirlpool. Gently crack an egg into the middle of the whirlpool and slide the pan back onto the heat. The water should stabilize at just the barest simmer. Poach the egg for 4 minutes, then remove it to a paper towel with a slotted spoon. Repeat the process with the other three eggs.

(If you don’t really care about how your eggs look, you can do them all at once by cracking them into bowls and sliding them into the water together.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and lower the heat to medium-low. (At this point, it’s a good idea to start toasting muffins and, if you didn’t want to make the Hollandaise ahead of time, melting the butter for the sauce.) Saute until they start to release liquid, then sprinkle on the thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Saute for another two or three minutes, then turn the heat to low. Stir occasionally, keeping the mushrooms warm until everything’s ready.

Reheat the poached eggs by dunking them for thirty seconds in a bowl of hot water. While they’re warming up, arrange four muffin halves on four plates and distribute the mushrooms evenly between them. Fish the eggs out with a slotted spoon, pat them dry with paper towels, and place one on each mushroom-topped muffin. Spoon Hollandaise sauce over each and serve with the extra muffin halves. (If you like, you can put jam on the extra halves, but I found that one saucy egg was plenty for both of mine.)

4 servings

Posted in Breakfasts, Sauces, Dressings, and Condiments, Vegetarian Main Dishes | Tagged , , , , , , ,

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