When I was growing up, I used to order Eggs Benedict for breakfast every time I had the chance. One day, I taught myself how to make it, and since then have tried to continually improve on this classic. This is what it evolved into over the years. I think you will find that it is a great combination of techniques and ingredients.
1 loaf of unsliced, good quality bread
4 thin slices of Westphalian ham, or other good quality ham
4 fresh (preferably organic large eggs), 5 egg yolks
1 TB white vinegar
2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 sticks of melted butter
Good quality caviar, optional.
Slice 4 slices off the loaf about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. With a round cutter about 3-4 inches in diameter, cut a hole in the slices. Set aside the rounds (save the rest of the bread for another use).
Fill a deep frying pan about half-way full with water. Add white vinegar and put over high heat until it reaches a simmer. Turn heat down to medium- medium high, maintaining the simmer (not a strong boil). One at a time, crack a whole egg into a ramekin or cup, swirl the water a little bit with a spoon, then carefully pour the egg in one of four sections in the pan. Repeat with the other 3 whole eggs. Allow to simmer for about 2-3 minutes, until the white is set, but the yolk is still runny. Set aside on a plate and cover to keep warm.
Melt butter in a saucepan. Put egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in a blender and blend for a few seconds until frothy. Slowly add the melted butter with the blender on. It should become a thick, beautiful Hollandaise. Check for seasoning.
Toast the bread rounds. On each of 4 plates, place a bread round, a slice of ham, one poached egg and a large dollop of Hollandaise.
If using caviar, place about a tsp of caviar on top before serving.
Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations.
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