Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.
Oh my gosh! I LOOOOOVE Eggs Benedict! I have never had them before, well, because I've never been to a restaurant fancier than Perkins for breakfast. And, I've never attempted to make them myself because I've heard that poaching eggs is...well, freaking hard. I was defintely excited for this month's challenge, then! It was like three challenges in one - hollindaise sauce, poaching an egg, and eggs benedict! Sweet!
Unfortunately for me, this month sucked. Big time. I've had a cold from hell since Thanksgiving (my family, was none too thankful for that, since I lovingly and quite accidentally got them all sick). My daughter had the cold, too, but it just kept getting worse and worse. Come to find out a bratty little boy from daycare (ok, he's actually a quite nice little boy, very cute and sweet) brought RSV with him one day, and shared it. With the entire daycare. So we've been dealing with that snot bucket of joy. Then sweet thang gets two ear infections on top of that. Oh yeah, and I cough a rib out of place. No freaking joke. And did I mention the car is still broke, the computer still dead, and my card reader also decided to kick the bucket? Just making life fun, you know.... Anyway, back to eggs.
I decided that I definitely like eggs benedict! It's actually not hard to poach an egg. I did it with a sick baby on my hip (really, I did. Probably not the smartest, but when I can't even put her down long enough to pee without her screaming bloody murder, you do what you have to do). The hard part is making it pretty. Carefully slipping an egg into simmering water so it doesn't spread all over hte place is easy to say, but not easy to do. I also found that if you are going to make more then one egg, its best to change the water out each time, because if you don't the more you cook, the uglier the eggs get. I poached six eggs one after another, and I noticed that as I went along the water got foamy and the eggs spread out and got stringier. When I changed the water each time, I ended up with prettier more precisely poached eggs. Maybe it was just me? Anyone else notice this? The hollindaise sauce was easy to make, if you can ignore hte unholy amount of butter in it. But that just makes it better! :)
Generally for poaching eggs you need:
• Large shallow pan
• Small bowl (for cracking eggs into)
• Large slotted spoon for lifting out poached eggs
• Double boiler (for the hollandaise)
• Alternatively a saucepan and heat proof mixing bowl that is large enough to sit on top
• Toaster or oven for toasting English muffins
• Frying pan for cooking bacon
• Thermos, carafe, or bowl (in which to keep the hollandaise warm)
- 4 eggs (size is your choice)
- 2 English muffins*
- 4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
- Chives, for garnish
- Splash of vinegar (for poaching)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) water
- ¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
- 12 Tbl. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces º
- ½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).
7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.
8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.
9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.
10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.
11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.
12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!
Poaching an egg is not very difficult technique-wise, it really is all about the timing and there are a few tricks that can help:
• Adding a bit of vinegar or acidic agent to your water will help stabilize the eggs and cook the whites faster, and keeping your water just below boiling point (about 190F) will help keep the fragile eggs from all the boiling bubble action rupturing the eggs. Also make sure to salt your poaching water well.
• The other main key to success is to crack your egg into a small bowl first, taking care not to break the yolk. Then it becomes easy to gently slide the entire egg into the water for the poaching process. Some people will also suggest swirling the poaching liquid into a bit of a vortex before sliding the egg in, in order to help keep the egg whites together. I’ve found it works fine whether or not you do this step.
• A poached egg is done when the whites are fully cooked and the yolk has just started to solidify but is still runny when you cut it open – usually three minutes. It’s ok to go a little longer though depending on your desired firmness. I like mine so the edges of yolks are cooking but the inside is still runny, so I usually let them go 30s longer.
• You can poach eggs ahead of time (about a day). Just immerse them in ice water after poaching, and then keep them in a bowl of water in the fridge. When you are ready to use them, place them in hot (not boiling) water until they are warmed through.