Celebrating Eggs Benedict was not going to be easy today. It was Easter morning and our plan for the day was to head to Connecticut to be there for one o’clock where we would have Easter lunch/dinner with my family. That meant we had to leave the house by 10 am. Still plenty of time to cook and eat Eggs Benedict albeit a bit gauche to eat them before the hour of 10 like a savage (Eggs Benedict are traditionally served at brunch – not breakfast). What I didn’t factor in was staying up the night before until 2 am. That was unplanned. It started out as just a casual night with some pizza and beers but then the Cards Against Humanity ended up coming out. That led into a rousing game of beer pong (apparently that’s our thing now). It ended up being a long night of fun where we ingested more beer than we had probably intended to. That made Sunday morning a bit rough and especially hard to motivate to make Eggs Benedict.
I had never made Eggs Benedict before. I had never made Hollandaise sauce before. I had never poached an egg before. Not only was this a challenge because of my dulled motor senses, it was a challenge to attempt to make something brand new in this condition. I always wanted to learn how to make Eggs Benedict. It’s actually Lola’s go-to item whenever we are eating brunch out. I always get jealous when I see her eating them because she eats by crafting perfect bites with a bit of English muffin, ham, egg and sauce on every forkful. She makes it look so good especially when I usually just woof down my hash omelette without taking a breath. On a normal day, I’d be excited to attempt making them in our home kitchen. Today however, I had a headache and was not feeling at my best which makes separating eggs especially painful because raw eggs emit a surprisingly pungent odor for a hungover-sensitive nose.
Although there are a few different theories on who invented Eggs Benedict, one story has them created by someone suffering from the exact ailment I was. The story goes that a Wall Street broker by the name of Lemuel Benedict went to the Waldorf Hotel one particularly hungover morning in 1894 and asked for “some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs, and a hooker of hollandaise sauce.” Maybe I was somehow channeling his spirit today by eating his namesake creation with a woozy head. Another story of the dish’s origins point to the famous Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City where one of the restaurant’s regular guests, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, wanted to try something outside of the usual fare and requested the elements of eggs Benedict after which it became a popular off-menu item. They are generally the two most widely accepted versions of the dishes history although some still say that it was invented by Pope Benedict XIII, who ruled the Vatican from 1724 to 1730, and was put on a strict eggs and toast diet and decided to dress his eggs in a lemon-based sauce. However in that story, he forgot the bacon which is a big part of the Eggs Benedict experience. Whoever the creator was, it was definitely not invented by American Revolutionary War General and traitor Benedict Arnold which is what many people think if when discussing the dish. He had nothing to do with it. (Info from AtlasObscura.com)
I had looked up recipes for both Hollandaise Sauce and poaching eggs the day before because I knew it was coming. I found the recipe from a website called ToriAvey.com and she basically reprinted the Julia Child’s recipe for Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce but with easy to visualize pictures and instructions. I appreciate that. Hollandaise sauce is essentially egg yolks mixed with lemon juice and some butter. You have to really beat the eggs and lemon juice together and then gradually add in the butter. The first recipe I saw for this looked really hard and had a chef frantically whisking trying too get the perfect consistency. It was a bit intimidating. That’s what was alluring about the Julia Child’s recipe. It was easy and all done in the blender. Much like for most people who watched her and read her recipes, Julia made it easy. When I made the sauce it literally took two minutes. I did however have to make it at the perfect time because you need to use the sauce right away otherwise it will separate. I timed it so the sauce would be done just as the eggs were finishing.
I started by grilling the English Muffins, which is an important part of the whole process. I buttered my grill pan and put the muffin face down and let it do it’s thing. Then I got out a pan and filled it with water to poach the eggs. I knew poaching eggs wouldn’t be that hard and I certainly have cooked eggs in all kinds of ways in the past. Poaching just seems weird to me – to dump a whole egg into water. It’s also an important element of the Eggs Benedict (if not the most important). The egg has to be perfectly cooked. I looked online again and I found a pretty simple instruction video from the BBC Good Food blog. I loved the video because the cook seems a bit nervous and it made me smile, plus he was a bit much. In the video, he actually takes out a scissors and trims the edges off the egg after it cooks. That seemed a bit OCD to me. But he did provide a few important tips like adding vinegar to the water, breaking your egg into a ramekin before dumping into water (that made it easier to handle) and creating a little whirlpool in the pan in which you drop the egg which keeps the egg together. It was great info and it worked like a charm. The eggs took exactly three minutes.
After the muffin was nice and toasted, I took them off and then put down some Canadian Bacon onto the hot pan to cook fast. In truth, I could of cooked the bacon for longer but I had almost forgotten about the bacon altogether (I totally spaced). I was able to get a quick brown on both sides in about a minute (the bacon is already cooked, so it was really just a matter of heating it through). When the bacon was done, I placed it onto the muffin, then I topped that with the egg which had been resting on a paper towel momentarily to soak up any excess water. Then I topped it all with the freshly made Hollandaise straight from the blender. They came out looking pretty tasty.
Lola had just gotten out of the shower and was in the process of getting ready as our departure clock was counting down, but we decided to take a few minutes to enjoy breakfast and have a holiday moment alone. Even though we were in a rush, sometimes you have to stop to enjoy a good breakfast, especially Eggs Benedict. It was actually really good. The egg was cooked perfectly and the yolk oozed out when your knife pierced through the egg. The muffin was nice and crunchy and the bacon was good and fresh (even though it could have been crispier). The Hollandaise sauce was a success too. It was rich and buttery with the taste of the lemon throughout. In truth, I would use less lemon next time, but you live and learn. It was still fresh and tasty and I had done it – I had made my first Eggs Benedict! Lola heartily approved too.
After we finished, I cleaned up the dishes and then myself (not in the same way or space). We were actually still right on schedule and we were able to leave on this bright beautiful day and head down Route 138 towards the Nutmeg State. We made good time until we got to Cheshire, where my sister leaves. There we took a wrong turn and ended up being about 15 minutes late which is actually not too bad for us. We had brought a mac and cheese with us which we got into the oven ASAP and pretty soon we were sitting down to Easter dinner with the family. It was a delicious ham along with potatoes, corn, broccoli and of course, great company. After dinner we got to play some Wiffleball too – our first game of the year. We couldn’t believe how warm it was – 85 degrees! A gorgeous day and the family was happy to rejoice.
Well, I learned that I can’t stay up drinking until 2 am anymore without consequences. I also learned how to make Eggs Benedict. That’s a recipe I’ve wanted in my tool belt for a long time. Now I gots the skills. There was something fun about using a Julia Child’s recipe too. I’ve often thought about the Julie & Julia movie along this quest as it seems somewhat relatable. Both of us were on a year long trek for no real reason. We both did a lot of cooking. We both learned to enjoy things a little more. I think that’s something Julia Child would appreciate. In any case, Julia taught me how to make a Hollandaise sauce and now I know. That’s what I learned this Easter. That and how to make a bank shot into a red solo cup of beer at 1:30 in the morning.
Next up: National Cheeseball Day