This Christmas has been a mix of traditions new and old for the Hearnes. We decorated the tree. Mike tried to school his dad at cribbage. We feasted on prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. But this year, we did it all in sunny Florida at the Hearnes soon-to-be home when Leanne retires this spring.
A critical Hearne family tradition is Eggs Benedict for breakfast on Christmas morning. Until this year, the Hearnes have always eaten Eggs Benedict after opening stockings but before opening gifts. In Florida, we do what we want so we threw the usual schedule out the window and opened gifts first. Things are getting crazy around here!
I observed today that making Eggs Benedict is an art form – Leanne learned how from watching Julia Child. It consists of a toasted English muffin, ham, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. It may sound simple, but making amazing Eggs Benedict like Leanne’s is a study in timing, organization and technique.
Hollandaise is a rich, creamy sauce made of egg, butter, lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper. It is notoriously difficult to create because it’s an emulsion. Leanne has it down to a science. Her secret? Make sure everything is in its place before you begin. Toast the muffins and brown the meat before you start on the eggs and Hollandaise.
You know the Hollandaise is done when it coats the spoon like this:
Hope you had a wonderful holiday!
Until We Eat Again,
Two Happy Cooks
Spray a large skillet* with Pam and fill with 1½” to 2” of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Break each egg into a custard cup. Holding the cup close to the water’s surface, slide each egg into the water. After about 30 seconds, take a spoon or metal spatula and scrape the egg off the bottom of the skillet. The egg will now float.
Cook the eggs 2 to 3 more minutes until the white is solid and the yolk is still soft.
* A 10” skillet can hold 6 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 T water
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice or more, if needed
6 or 8 oz very soft unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Cooking the egg-yolk base:
Whisk the yolks, water, and lemon juice in the saucepan for a few moments, until thick and pale (this prepares them for what is to come). Set the pan over moderately low heat and continue to whisk at reasonable speed, reaching all over the bottom and insides of the pan, where the eggs tend to overcook.
To moderate the heat, frequently move the pan off the burner for a few seconds, and then back on. (If, by chance, the eggs seem to be cooking too fast, set the pan in the bowl of cold water to cool the bottom, then continue.) As they cook, the eggs will become frothy and increase in volume, and then thicken. When you can see the pan bottom through the streaks of the whisk and the eggs are thick and smooth, remove from the heat.
Beating in the butter:
By spoonfuls, add the soft butter, whisking constantly to incorporate each addition. As the emulsion forms, you may add the butter in slightly larger amounts, always whisking until fully absorbed.
Continue incorporating butter until the sauce has thickened to the consistency you want.
Season lightly with salt and a dash of white pepper, whisking in well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding droplets of lemon juice if needed. Serve lukewarm.
Yield: about 1 cup