MISSION: Eggs Benedict

Don’t hate me because I eat Eggs Benedict almost as often as I mow my lawn. Don’t hate me because I indulge in a Saturday ritual that involves butter and eggs and silky goodness. Here’s why: I’m doing it for science! Well, not actually science. But there’s definitely some research happening as I’m gobbling down (and occasionally creating) the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of this creamy brunch treat.

I consumed one-too-many soft-boiled eggs a child, and steered away from runny yolks for years. Early last year I was able to push these memories to the back of my palate and allow for the wonders of creamy, gooey, wonderful yolks to return to my life.

The history of this delectable dish is muddled – some versions referring back to the late 1800s, and others citing Edward Montgomery’s hangover-helper with a “hooker” of hollandaise over a split English muffin, crispy bacon and two perfectly poached eggs. That’s the version I prefer.

Farm-fresh eggs from San Juan Island made this hollandaise as bright as the midday sun!
Farm-fresh eggs from San Juan Island made this hollandaise as bright as the midday sun!

 

Regardless of its origin, I’ve found the following recipe (specifically for the hollandaise) to be a winner. No slow-drizzling of butter. Surely it’s something Julia Child would roll her eyes over. But have no worries – make it in 4-5 minutes (beginning just after you’ve tossed your eggs into vinegar’d water for their poaching bath) and the two’ll be ready for plating with near precision:

  • Toast an English muffin – crisp. Looking for something fun and different? Try a potato cake, a brioche bun or a biscuit.
  • Prepare bacon, smoked salmon, or ham – sear while the eggs are poaching)
  • Just before the poaching eggs, begin preparation of  hollandaise sauce (below)

HOLLANDAISE:

  • 4 Tbsp of salted butter (cut into 1/2″ squares)
  • Threatened (stirred with a fork for 15 seconds) yolk of two eggs
  • Juice of one medium-sized lemon
  • 4 Tbsp of heavy cream
  • A dash of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp of cider vinegar

METHOD:

  1. In a medium-heat double-boiler whisk butter, egg yolks, lemon juice and heavy cream until sauce coats the whisk (3-4 minutes). Add 1/2 tsp of cider vinegar and set aside (do not cover)
  2. Poach two eggs – the fresher, the better (Alton Brown’s Food Network method is always a breeze!)
  3. Plate both sides of English muffin side-by-side
  4. Top with smoked salmon, bacon or ham (or get PNW on it and add pre-heated Dungeness crab!)
  5. Gently lay your perfectly-poached eggs on top
  6. Slather with a creamy coating of hollandaise
  7. Garnish with Italian parsley, bias-cut chives or paprika
A delicious homemade Eggs Benedict  - slathered in lemony hollandaise and stuffed with Dungeness crab
A delicious homemade Eggs Benedict – slathered in lemony hollandaise and stuffed with Dungeness crab

Don’t want to cook your own? My research (and I use this term loosely) has found a few gems among a sea of mediocrity. As you know, I’m not one to spout the negative, so instead I’ll outline a few favorites I’ve found along the way this year: Belltown’s Bell + Whete‘s delectable version includes a heap of Dungeness crab and a sunny deck to enjoy it on a beautiful summer day; Blueacre Seafood‘s ‘Eggs Michael’ switches up hollandaise for bearnaise – a genius idea!; White Center’s Meander’s Kitchen blends tradition with a side of awesome tattooed service; and Issaquah Cafe (in my new ‘hood) was sadly lackluster.

Top L to bottom R: Bell + Whete, Issaquah Cafe, Blueacre Seafood, Meander's Kitchen
Top L to bottom R: Bell + Whete, Issaquah Cafe, Blueacre Seafood, Meander’s Kitchen

 

Have a favorite joint for Eggs Benny in your neighborhood? Let me know if it’s worth the trip!

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