Eggs Benedict At Home: A Delicious Celebratory Breakfast

Chow on 12.10.12
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Photo: Katherine Martinko

In my family, we have a tradition that the birthday boy or girl gets to set the menu for the day. That guarantees one thing every time: Eggs Benedict for breakfast. When my baby turned a year recently, we decided to start the tradition on his behalf. Even though he's still too young to understand, I made Eggs Benedict for the entire extended family who was here to celebrate. My feeling is that you can never go wrong with Eggs Benedict. It's a guaranteed crowd pleaser with its delicious flavour. It can be labour-intensive, but it's a recipe that comes together well in an assembly line of sorts.

Eggs Benedict is also versatile. I've used all sorts of fillings from Canadian bacon (or peameal bacon, as we call it up here in Canada) and regular bacon, to Black Forest ham and smoked salmon, even steamed spinach. Regular bread can be substituted for the classic English muffin in an emergency, though you won't get the iconic chewiness. Hollandaise sauce, while seemingly intimidating, is (almost) foolproof when made in the blender and almost too delicious to bear. So, even if there is no birthday in your family, use the holidays and cold weather as an excuse to start your day off right with this yummy, satisfying breakfast.

Eggs Benedict

Prepare the Hollandaise Sauce
3 eggs yolks
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, melted
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne 
Place yolks, salt, lemon juice, and cayenne in a blender and turn on the machine. Very slowly drizzle in the melted butter; the mixture will thicken. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if necessary. (Usually it takes me a fair bit of tweaking to get it right.)

Prepare the Filling
16 pieces of strip bacon
8 large pieces Canadian (peameal) bacon
8 large pieces thawed smoked salmon
1 pkg. spinach, steamed and squeezed dry
If using either kind of bacon, fry and let drain on paper towel. The other filling options are ready to use.

Prepare the Eggs
8 eggs, preferably farm-fresh and organic
Place 2-3 inches of water in a large skillet or pot. Bring to a boil. Add a dash of white vinegar. Add eggs one at a time, carefully flipping each one over with a spoon as soon as you can, so a white film forms across the yolk. Let the eggs poach until desired consistency is reached. (I don't like runny eggs, so I cook mine for 3 minutes or so.)

Prepare the Bread
4 English muffins, split in half 
8 pieces of bread
Toast the bread and place two halves or pieces on each plate. 

Assemble the Eggs Benedict
Place your choice of filling on top of the toasted English muffin -- two strips of bacon, or a piece of Canadian bacon or salmon or a handful of spinach. Place a hot poached egg on top of the meat. Drizzle generously with Hollandaise sauce and dash with some cayenne or paprika. Enjoy! Serves 4.

Recipe for Hollandaise Sauce is from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything

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