Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How to Make Poached Eggs and Eggs Benedict

We have always loved Eggs Benedict, but rarely made them. The main work in them is making the hollandaise sauce. We have discovered that packaged Hollandaise Sauce Mix is really excellent - especially if you put a few drops of fresh lemon juice in it to brighten the flavor.

Hollandaise Sauce holds really well, so make it first, according the the package directions. Add 1/2 tsp of fresh lemon juice if you have it, and set aside in its pan. You can reheat it if it cools off.

You will need one half of an English Muffin for each egg. This dish is very rich, so two eggs will probably be more than enough for even the heartiest eater, and one will be sufficient for most.
Split and toast the English Muffins. Butter them if you like, but it is not necessary because of the sauce. Set them onto the plates.

Take Canadian Bacon slices or Ham slices and fry lightly just until warm and lightly browned. I usually use regular ham, since I am more likely to have it on hand. Set one slice on each English Muffin.

Eggs Benedict is made with poached eggs. Poached eggs are cooked in water or steam until the white is set. You can use an egg poaching pan, or if you don't have one, there are a couple of other ways to poach eggs.

I have a pan, pictured in the top photo: a little aluminum pan with a top piece that has round depressions or wells in it to hold the eggs. You put water in the bottom, spray the depressions with cooking spray, break the eggs in to the wells, cook for a few minutes.

One way to poach eggs is to use a ring to contain the egg. You can buy egg rings from restaurant supply houses or make your own. I would have said save tuna cans but they have been redesigned recently and you can no longer remove both top and bottom of the can. You can still do so with the 8 oz cans of pineapple or water chestnuts. Use a can opener and remove both top and bottom from the can. Remove the label, wash well, and save to use in the future for poaching eggs and for cutting out large circles of dough.

Take a small saucepan or skillet and put about an inch of water in it. Add a half teaspoon of vinegar to the water. Bring to a simmer.

Grease the inside of your egg ring can and put it into the water. Crack your egg into a small dish then pour it into the ring without breaking the yolk. Cook as above and use a slotted spoon to remove when done.

The other way is to use a saucepan, with water as above, but with no ring. Instead, once the water has come to a fast simmer, use a spoon to stir the water rapidly so that it spins like water going down a drain and pour the egg into the center of it, then stop stirring. The spinning will help keep the egg white concentrated until it has cooked enough to stay together. This is the way that Thelma (Paul's mother) made poached eggs.

Whatever method you use, keep watching so as not to overcook. When the white is all white,
they are done. If the yellow starts lightening around the edges there isn't a moment to spare. You want the yolk to be runny for this dish - even if you do not usually like runny yolks! That said, you can still use an egg if you accidentally overcook it. Practice will make it easier.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the poached egg, shake off excess water, and set it on top of the ham.

Now reheat your Hollandaise sauce if needed and ladle it over the eggs. Use a whisk if necessary to keep it from getting lumpy (mine in the picture got lumpy! Ooops!)

Serve immediately.

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