TT Culinary Institute: Eggs Benedict
Over the days of waiting in line for brunch when your need for a Bloody Mary and plate of eggs isn't just real, it's urgent? So are we. That's why we're challenging you to take on brunch at home—but not just any brunch. You're going to make a plate that puts any breakfast bowl or avocado toast to shame. It's time to master eggs Benedict.
This classic dish is the beautiful sum of its parts: a crisp English muffin, seared Canadian bacon, poached eggs and tangy hollandaise sauce (see the recipe). It's the combination of flavors and textures that makes this such a perfectly balanced breakfast.
The toasted nooks and crannies of the muffin catch the runny yolk and hollandaise, while the acidity of the hollandaise helps stand up to the smokiness of the bacon. The best part? This symphony of a dish is perfectly within reach in the comfort of your own home. Take it from the experts: Nick Korbee, chef of Egg Shop in NYC; Maya Jankelowitz, co-owner of popular brunch haven Jack's Wife Freda in NYC; and Alvin Cailan, chef of Eggslut in Los Angeles share their best tips and tricks for making the true breakfast of champions.
Bluffin' with Our Muffin
"A perfect eggs Benedict starts with the perfect bread," Korbee says. "The bread has to be toasty and substantial enough to hold up to both the yolk and the sauce without losing integrity." While you can use a whole slew of carbs, nothing does the job quite like an English muffin. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even give making them from scratch a go.
Instead of popping these bad boys in the toaster, we give them the TLC they deserve by brushing them with milk solids leftover from clarified butter before sticking them in the oven. The milk solids help the muffins get crisp and beautifully golden as their sugars caramelize.
Bringing Home the Bacon
So what actually is Canadian bacon? Some of our staffers didn't know the answer offhand, so let's set the record straight: Canadian bacon, which you might recognize from your Hawaiian pizza, is simply smoked pork tenderloin compared to the pork belly used for traditional bacon. This makes it much leaner and closer to deli ham in flavor and texture. All you've got to do is sear it, and you're good to go.
You can get creative, however, by swapping out the bacon for any smoked meat. "Since we don't eat pork, we came up with this version, which is somewhat inspired by Jewish favorites," Jankelowitz tells us about the eggs Benedict at Jack's Wife Freda. It's made with smoked salmon and a poached egg over a latke with beet hollandaise.
Hollandaise of Our Lives
Hollandaise sauce is one of the classic French mother sauces. It's made up of an emulsion of egg yolks and lemon juice with clarified butter. So what exactly is clarified butter? It's butter in which the milk solids have been separated out leaving behind pure butterfat. And it's used here because it emulsifies better for a thicker and smoother sauce.
"With traditional hollandaise, practice makes perfect," Korbee says. "If you want to do it like a pro, keep some premade clarified butter on hand in your fridge and use it as necessary to keep your skills up. Otherwise, fake it 'til you make it by using a blender."
Cailan is a big fan of the blender method. "Use a Vitamix," he says. "The blade spins so fast, and it emulsifies perfectly within seconds. It comes out perfect as long as you have 180-degree clarified butter." We tried the blender method on a recent Facebook Live and can vouch for it: You'll get a beautifully smooth and thick sauce.
Our last hollandaise tip is geared toward making it in advance. You can't cool down and reheat a hollandaise, so you have to hold it over a double boiler over super-low heat. If your hollandaise becomes too thick as it sits, simply whisk in a tablespoon or two of hot water, and it should come right back to life.
Now, it's time for the star of the show: those perfectly poached eggs. The first rule is to make sure your water is at the right temperature. Poaching temperature is 160 to 180 degrees, but you want to keep that pot at 180 degrees, since the eggs will drop the temperature slightly.
Next, you should crack all your eggs into individual small bowls, so you can drop them in the water close to the surface. This helps keep the shape of the egg together.
Finally, add a touch of vinegar and give the water a good swirl before dropping in the eggs. This helps create a perfect teardrop shape. When you remove the eggs from the water, tap them lightly on a paper towel to remove any loose albumen from the set white. Now just assemble your Benedict, and you're ready to eat.
So get cracking, because a Benny made is a Benny earned.
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