Saveur (October 2008)
We certainly weren't in the market for another food magazine, but a couple months ago, when we received an offer for a low-cost subscription to Saveur, we couldn't resist.
And with the October issue devoted entirely to breakfast dishes, we're glad we didn't!
We love to eat breakfast.
During the work week, we do a quick breakfast -- most often quick cooking oats, protein shakes or Kashi cereal -- but on the weekends, one of our favorite things to do is to make a nice big breakfast. We like to make biscuits or pancakes or slow scramble eggs with white pepper. And we live for bacon and sausage. (You can take the boys out of the South . . .)
Anyway, the breakfast issue of Saveur is glorious -- page after page of beautiful eggs, pastries and potato dishes. We'd like to cook every one of them, especially Homemade Breakfast Sausage (!) and Blueberry Pancakes.
For our first Saveur dish, we opted for Classic Eggs Benedict. We sometimes order Eggs Benedict when dining out, but we'd never made it at home. Honestly, it falls pretty low on our breakfast totem poles, somewhere below omelets but way above scrapple.
But, as the title says, it's a classic breakfast dish and we figured we might as well make it once.
The bulk of making eggs Benedict is simple -- toasting English muffins, browning Canadian bacon, and making a hollandaise in a blender or a food processor.
The more difficult task -- or maybe just the more nervewracking one -- is poaching eggs.
We'd never poached an egg before, and we were surprised to read that the magazine suggests adding vinegar to the boiling water (the ratio is 2 cups vinegar for 16 cups of water). According the recipe, the vinegar helps the eggs "form into perfect spheres."
We cracked our first egg into a ramekin, and the then quickly dropped it into the boiling water. The egg white streaked slightly in the water, but for the most part stayed together. After three minutes, we removed the egg from the water and placed it on a paper towel-lined plate. We were braver with the subsequent eggs, poaching several at a time in the same pot.
The finished dish looked great -- just like the magazine and much like eggs Benedict that we would order at a restaurant.
The taste, though, was nothing special. The hollandaise was bland and unexciting, even though we had used fresh eggs from the farmers market.
So we're back to square one with eggs Benedict. Though we admire its breakfasty beauty, we don't care to make it again anytime soon.
Are we missing something? Any secrets you want to share?
The secret to success with this dish is the quality of its parts. Adding a generous amount of vinegar to the poaching liquid—a restaurant trick—helps the eggs form into perfect spheres, and making the hollandaise in a blender whips the sauce into a smooth, emulsified state, so it isn't as likely to separate as the version made by hand with a whisk.
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
8 slices Canadian bacon
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp. Tabasco
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
8 eggs, cracked into separate small bowls
4 English muffins, pulled apart by hand and toasted
Paprika or cayenne, for garnish
1. Bring 16 cups water to a boil in a tall 6-quart saucepan over high heat. Add vinegar and 2 tsp. salt, lower heat to medium, and bring to a simmer.
2. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat; add bacon; cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
3. Combine yolks, lemon juice, 4 tsp. warm water, Tabasco, and remaining salt in a blender; turn to medium speed and slowly drizzle in butter to make the hollandaise. Transfer to a bowl; set aside, covered.
4. Swirl simmering water with a spoon to create a whirlpool. Carefully slide each egg into water; poach until just firm, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a paper towel-lined plate. Divide muffin halves between 4 plates; top each half with 1 slice of bacon and 1 egg. Spoon 2–3 tbsp. sauce over each egg. Sprinkle with paprika or cayenne.