Saturday, December 27, 2008

New York Brunch

The origin of Eggs Benedict is unclear, but its popularity is undisputed. Each weekend, the residents of New York collectively sit down for brunch. Nearly every restaurant in the city offers a special weekend brunch, and nearly every one includes some form of Eggs Benedict on the menu. There's traditional (english muffin, a slice of ham, and a poached egg with hollandaise), nontraditional (with smoked salmon, bacon, spinach, or tomato; the list is endless), and even McTraditional (the Egg McMuffin was inspired by Eggs Benedict - a slice of cheese sheepishly substitutes for the hollandaise).

How to make Eggs Benedict:

Toast an english muffin, and cover it with a piece of canadian bacon. Place a poached egg on top and cover with hollandaise sauce. I like to serve it with roasted asparagus on the side, which taste great swept up in the overflowing egg yolk and hollandaise sauce.

How to poach an egg:

In a shallow saucepan, bring a couple inches of water and a splash of vinegar to a very gentle simmer. The small amount of vinegar will help keep the egg together. With a slotted spoon, swirl the water and crack the egg right into the water. Keep swirling gently so that the yolk becomes encased by the white, and so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Be careful to keep the simmer and swirl gentle enough so as much of the egg stays together as possible without scrambling. Cook for a few minutes until the egg has somewhat solidified, but the yolk is still soft. Remove the egg from the water with the slotted spoon and transfer to a lint-free tea towel so the egg can dry off until you're ready to build your Eggs Benedict.

Make the hollandaise sauce:

(Note: I do not make hollandaise according to tradition... I use more egg yolks. And non-clarified butter.)

In a medium saucepan (or use a double boiler if you have one) bring a couple inches of water to a simmer over very low heat. In a stainless steel bowl set over the steaming water, whisk 4 egg yolks with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus a pinch of salt. Whisk continuously until the yolks become thick and light in color, and have increased in volume. This will take several patient minutes. Keep a hand on the side of the stainless steel bowl - if it gets too hot to touch, you may want to turn the heat down a little, or remove the bowl for a minute to prevent the egg from cooking too fast and getting chunky. Once the yolks have thickened, whisk in 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time. Spoon the warm sauce over the poached eggs, and garnish with snipped chives. This will be enough sauce for at least 6 Eggs Benedicts.

No comments: