Friday, April 27, 2012

Lou’s Eggs Benedict

photo by John Olson

We are about 6 couples who gather each Easter morning to paint eggs. Lou hides them and then while the rest of us are out hunting for them, he prepares his famous Eggs Benedict for us. Since there are no children at this event and we each tend to consume a few Mimosas before brunch, we have a really good time.  This year, instead of hunting, I assisted him by stirring and serving the Hollandaise sauce and took copious notes to report back to you. We may not go to church on Easter morning, but with that Hollandaise sauce- we still had a religious experience. 

Ingredients (For 6 people)

1/2 cup distilled vinegar, divided
12 large eggs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
12 slices pancetta (the original recipe calls for Canadian bacon)
6 plain English muffins, split

1 can of Underwood Deviled Ham Spread
3 sticks of unsalted butter

2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper or a pinch of cayenne pepper

Chopped fresh chives or parsley


Preheat oven to 400F
First make the Hollandaise sauce: In a medium pan, completely melt the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and set it aside for 5 minutes. Skim and discard the white foam that rises to the surface of the butter. Carefully ladle or pour the clear golden butter into a container with a pouring spout. Take care not to add the milky solids and watery liquid at the bottom of the saucepan. Set the butter aside in a warm spot. Pour enough water into a medium saucepan to reach a depth of about 2 inches. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. In a double boiler (or heatproof bowl over a saucepan) combine the egg yolks and the cold water. Whisk until the yolks are light and frothy. Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly and vigorously until the yolks are thickened and light, about 3 to 4 minutes. (If the eggs begin to scramble, or the mixture is cooking very quickly or gets too hot, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk to cool). Remove the eggs from the heat and whisk for 30 seconds to cool slightly.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and set the bowl over the hot water. Slowly drizzle the butter into the eggs while whisking constantly. Whisk in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste. (If the sauce is very thick, add a few drops of warm water to adjust the consistency so it is creamy and light.) Keep the hollandaise sauce in a small bowl set over warm, but not hot water, for the time it takes you to make the eggs and muffins.
Pour enough water into 2 large skillets to reach a depth of about 3 inches, and divide the vinegar between them. Bring both skillets to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
Place the English muffin halves on a cookie sheet. On each half spread one teaspoon of ham spread and a slice of pancetta. Put into the oven to toast.
Crack an egg into a cup and carefully slide it into the hot poaching liquid. Quickly repeat with all the eggs. Poach the eggs, turning them occasionally with a spoon, until the whites are firm, or to the desired degree of doneness, about 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and transfer to a kitchen towel. Lightly dab the eggs with the towel to remove any excess water.
To serve, divide the toasted English muffin halves with ham and pancetta on to 6 warmed plates. Set an egg on top of each. Spoon the hollandaise sauce over the eggs and garnish with the chives, cayenne pepper or chopped parsley.  Serve immediately.

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