I’ve always been completely overwhelmed by poaching eggs. Something about the swirling water and vinegar and creating a water tornado, which for me, always turned into egg drop soup. My mom bought me some silicone poached egg cups, but it felt like cheating. As if that weren’t hard enough, if you’re trying to make Eggs Benedict, you have the whole other hassle of the Hollandaise sauce! One of my first challenges in turning myself into a respectable cook was learning how to make Eggs Benedict.
My dad had explained the swirling trick to me, but I wound up with some yolks surrounded by a wisp of white… and they looked a little gruesome. So, I took to the internet in search of tricks and came across an Alton Brown video that totally changed my life… in regards to egg poaching at least.
I don’t know when the wave of YouTube tutorial videos came around, but they have made my life infinitely easier. You can pretty much learn how to do or make anything you want on YouTube. But anyway, I adore Alton Brown because he’s obviously such a food nerd and this video (posted below) blew my mind.
I spent a whole weekend with my Eggs Benedict experiment and let me tell you, the first attempt was pretty gruesome. My boyfriend said it was delicious and devoured the broken (curdled-looking) Hollandaise and sad eggs anyway, but it wasn’t up to my Virgo standards. So the next day, I came armed with internet research.
Basically, in Alton Brown’s video, he suggests bringing 1.5 inches of water to 190 degrees in a wide non-stick skillet. Meanwhile, crack fresh eggs (you can tell they’re fresh if the whites are cloudy) into small individual bowls and put about 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar into the water. When the water is up to temperature, use a spoon to disperse the air bubbles from the pan and gently pour the eggs into the water, one at a time. Set a timer for 4.5 minutes and when they’re done, carefully remove the eggs and place them onto a paper towel. Now you can remove the scraggly bits with the spoon. And as Alton (yeah, we’re on a first name basis now) suggests, you can save them in ice water in the fridge for up to 8 hours to reheat in hot water for 30 seconds later, or you can eat them now!
I was using a recipe for hollandaise sauce that super complicated and was just not working for me (as shown above), so I also did some research online and found that there are indeed easier methods. Some cooks suggest using a blender for the hollandaise, but I’m pretty into the powers of the might whisk, so I stuck with the basics.
A lot of recipes recommend melting the butter and adding it to the eggs, but it turns out that you can put the butter, egg yolks and water into a pan and cook at low heat, while constantly whisking and the sauce will gradually come together on its own! The sauce will thicken while it cooks, but be sure to keep the temperature low. Once it is at the desired consistency (I like mine a little oozy, but it will get mayonaise thick if you keep cooking), add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Use immediately or keep in a warm place.
If you do run into trouble and the hollandaise separates, I found another YouTube video which shows you how to save broken hollandaise sauce!
Now that you have the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, you’re ready to compile your Eggs Benedict.
Eggs Benedict (serves 2)
- 4 eggs
- 2 English muffins
- 4 ounces shaved ham
- 4 chopped fresh chives
- Hollandaise Sauce
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 ounces of unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
Start the hollandaise sauce first, because it takes the longest to prepare. Poach the eggs. Toast the English muffins. Place halved English muffins on a plate, top with ham, poached eggs, hollandaise, cracked black pepper and chives. Tada!