Eggs Benedict serves many purposes. It gives you an excuse to eat a deceptive amount of early-morning cured pork products, butter, eggs, and carbs; it provides brunch establishments around the globe with a blank and variable canvas on which they can overcharge hungover diners; and—if you so choose to make it yourself—it has the power to either make you feel like a God-like breakfast savant, or a helpless child flailing in a lifetime of poached egg and curdled Hollandaise insecurities.
This is how to be the former.
First, get all your ingredients together. You’re going to need some sort of bread, a type of salty animal product, a bunch of eggs, and even more butter. I’m going with a standard English muffin—because if it’s good enough for Denny’s, it’s good enough for me—but I’m subbing out the traditional Canadian bacon for some serrano ham. Why? Because Canadian bacon is bullshit. It’s typically made with cured and smoked lean pork loin, which is cool if you’re on a diet, but since beach season is winding down you can afford to bulk back up with some fatty Spanish serrano.
Now, you get to poach some eggs without falling into a pit of self-loathing and wondering why all the people on TV can do it and you can’t. Fill a small sauce pot with water, season with salt, bring to a boil, then add in a tablespoon of white vinegar. The acid helps the whites coagulate allowing the egg to keep its shape. Then, crack a single raw egg into a small ramekin, bowl, or even a triple shot glass if you have one. Turn the heat down to medium, let the water stop boiling, then stir in a circular motion with a wooden spoon. Directly in the eye of the mini water vortex, tilt your ramekin and let the egg gently slide out. After about four minutes, remove with a slotted spoon. Your white should be set and your yolk runny—just as breakfast god intended all eggs to be.
Whatever you do as far as timing goes, it’s crucial that the hollandaise is the last component you make. There’s no way to reheat it without it curdling, so the only way to get piping hot buttery egg mixture into your mouth is to snatch it straight from the stove top. Assuming you know how to toast an English muffin and lay some ham on it, let’s get to this, yeah?
First, throw take two egg yolks, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a tiny pinch of cayenne into the bottom of a large metal mixing bowl, then whisk the hell out of it. Whisk like you’ve never whisked before—the mixture should appear fluffier and almost double in volume. Then, place a stick of butter in a coffee mug and melt it in the microwave. Technically, you’re supposed to used clarified butter, but the difference is negligible. You’re making eggs Benedict—your life is hard enough. No need to make it harder.
Now is the time to jury-rig a bain marie, or—if you want to avoid sounding like an asshole—a double boiler. Take a sauce pot that the metal mixing bowl with your egg yolks can comfortably rest on, add an inch of water, and bring it to a simmer. Place your bowl on top of the pot, and start whisking the egg yolks while slowly streaming in the melted butter. The gentle heat from the double boiler heats up the yolks just enough to pasteurize them, but not so much as to make an accidental omelet. If you see any curds start to form in the Hollandaise, pull the bowl off the heat immediately, turn down the stove, then add the bowl back on when everything has calmed down. It’s an intricate dance, but one that’s well worth it. Once all your butter has been streamed in, take it off the heat, and throw it on top of your bread, meat, and egg sandos, garnish with something green, and bask in the sweet amateur yolk-porn that you just created.
Photos by All photos by Josh Scherer