Classic Eggs Benedict

As a Southern California native, if there were two things I had to choose that defines SoCal, its beaches and brunch. Over in San Diego, brunch is taken almost as seriously as a Presidential Election, and many life-changing choices are considered by locals every time they brunch. Which place has the shortest wait times? Do they have an online check-in system? How close is it to the beach? Do they have bottomless mimosas? Do they offer free coffee and corn-hole games set outside to entertain you while you wait?

Fortunately, you can skip out on such stressful, life-changing questions by taking matters into your own hands and making brunch at home. And one of the most iconic and popular brunch dishes is of course the legendary Eggs Benedict.

Although extremely popular in San Diego, this dish is said to originate on the other side of the country– in a restaurant known as Delmonico’s in New York. Legend has it that regular customers by the name Mr. and Mrs. LeGrand Benedict ate there so many times, that they grew tired of the menu and requested a new dish to be created. From then on, it exploded into the national brunch staple that it is today — a lightly toasted English muffin cut in half, with each half stacked with a salty, savory ham slice, a silky, yolky poached egg, and rich, buttery Hollandaise sauce. This version is served up on top of a crispy bed of hash-browns!

Ingredients (for 1 serving)
-1 English muffin, cut in half and toasted
-2 extra (egg-stra) large eggs
-2 slices of prosciutto ham
-2 tsp vinegar
-Pinch of kosher salt
-Black pepper, to taste and garnish
-Chopped parsley, for garnish

Hollandaise Sauce (for 4 servings)
-4 egg yolks
-1 tsp sugar
-1.5 sticks of unsalted butter
-1 tsp water
-Salt, to taste
-juice from 1/4th a lime
-1/2 tsp paprika

Useful Tools
-Blender (I used a Vitamix)

Procedure
Hollandaise Sauce
1) Separate egg yolks from egg whites.
2) Add sugar, water, lime juice, salt, and paprika to the egg yolks and whisk to mix until homogenized
3) Melt butter in a microwave until all butter is melted (approx 45 seconds). Alternatively, melt butter in a saucepan on low heat until all butter is melted
4) Place yolk mixture into a blender
5) Turn on blender in low speed setting. Slowly add the melted butter to the yolk mix while it is blending (adding the hot, melted better too quickly will cook your eggs and will leave you with a solid, cooked eggy mess)
6) Once all melted butter is added, close the lid of the blender and bring blender to high speed to mix evenly
7) Store Hollandaise Sauce in a thermally insulated container (eg, Hydroflask) up to an hour. Serve as quick as you can.

Egg Poaching
1) In a medium saucepan, fill to about 2/3rds full with water
2) Add Kosher salt and vinegar to the pan
3) Bring water to a simmering gentle boil (not a violent, boiling bubbly one)
4) Crack eggs into separate small bowls/ramekins.
5) Using a soup ladle, spatula, or stirring device of your choice; stir the water in a single, circular motion so that a small vortex is created in the middle
6) Gently drop the egg from the bowl into the middle of the vortex (you can literally submerge half the bowl/ramekin into the water and let the egg slide out — careful not to burn your fingers). Gently add the second egg to the water in the same manner
7) Turn off the heat and place a lid on your saucepan.
7.1) Allow the eggs to sit in the pot for about 4 minutes. This will give a firmer white, but still runny egg yolk.
7.2) If you want an extremely runny yolk, dial the time back to 3 minutes.
7.3) If you don’t want runny yolk at all, let it sit for at least 5 minutes).
8) Gently remove the poached egg from the water with a slotted spoon and place onto a plate lined with paper towel to allow excess water to drip from the egg. Allow to rest for about 30 seconds

Benedict Building
1) Cut English muffin in half, and toast with a toaster or quickly on a pan
2) Add a slice of proscuitto ham on each half of the muffin
3) Add a poached egg on top of the ham slices
4) Add Hollandaise sauce on top of the egg
5) Garnish with a pinch of black pepper and chopped cilantro

Observations/Tips
-Use the freshest eggs you can for poaching. The reason being is because older eggs develop more watery whites (albumen). These watery whites end up forming little whispy clouds in your boiling water instead of wrapping around and forming your poached egg.
-You can use the float test to determine how fresh your egg is. If your egg sinks completely in a cup of water, it is pretty fresh and the perfect candidate for poaching. If the egg partially stands or floats to the top, then the egg is quite old and shouldn’t be used for poaching. The reasoning behind this floating is because despite it’s solid looking appearance, egg shells are actually quite porous (contains little holes). These holes are large enough so that air slowly enters the inside, while liquid in the egg slowly evaporates out. Eventually, an air pocket will form, which will lower the egg density, causing it to float.
-Why use vinegar? Vinegar is an acidic liquid that lowers the pH of your boiling water. The combination of heat and acidity from the vinegar helps cook your egg whites faster, and can lead to a more solid, beautiful looking poached egg.
-Creating a vortex spin in your boiling water prior to dropping your egg helps shape your poached egg. As the egg whites solidify, it follows the circular flow direction of the water, and helps wrap around the yolk.

References
Taste of Home’s “Who Created Eggs Benedict”
Exploratorium’s Egg Science

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