Friday, November 20, 2015

The Incredible Edible Egg.

The egg is one of the most versatile ingredients in the culinary world.  Eggs are one of my favorite foods besides pizza, cheeseburgers, & hot dogs. I have been known to lurk awkwardly at social gatherings searching for the ubiquitous tray of deviled eggs. Once found I stand my ground. Mingling only with the delicious eggs. I must consume them all. "No sir or madam, you may not have a deviled egg. Perhaps you would prefer a slice of walnut coated port wine cheese ball on a fancy cracker. Don't make me tell you no again. Leave while you still can."  Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, I eat at least one egg a day. I show my cholesterol who's boss. Just like Tony Danza.

The first time I had Eggs Benedict was at a Mother's Day luncheon at a fancy hotel in downtown Miami. "What is this magical creation?" I asked the man at the huevos station as I pointed to the English muffin mound covered in yellow gravy. "Eggs Benedict. English muffin, ham, poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce." With a creepy grin from ear to ear I took three of them back to my table. My mind nearly exploded. An open-faced ham and egg sandwich covered in butter sauce. Hell yes. I went home that day with a new favorite food.

But then my skewed version of reality hit. Eggs Benedict was not something you could make at home. It was food you can only have on Easter or Mothers Day at fancy hotel buffets. I had never seen them anywhere else. I once asked my mother for Eggs Benedict for breakfast and she scoffed at me. "Yeah, I can't make that honey. How about a fried egg sandwich?" I would never turn down a fried egg sandwich but as I ate it I cried a few salty sad tears.

Many years later the internet happened and people could find out how to make anything but by then I had pushed the Benedict out of my mind. I started culinary school in my early twenties and on the first day I cracked open my textbook and what was the first thing I see? I saw a recipe for Eggs Benedict. I was so stoked. I was going to learn how to make it myself. Unfortunately my excitement was immediately crushed learning that eggs were a second quarter subject. I waited patiently learning about the fundamentals of cookery (okay I lied, I tried to make it without instruction and I failed miserably). My time would come. Second quarter eventually came and I learned how to make a hollandaise sauce. I could now achieve what I thought was a magical gift only passed down to Mothers Day buffet chefs from some secret ancient breakfast scrolls hidden away in a mysterious mountain egg temple.

Many many years have passed since my culinary school days. Technology has changed. Cooking knowledge has changed. There are secrets that you learn with experience but recipes have been broken down so that even the least experienced home cook can make fancy food. Eggs Benedict may not be the secret magical dish it once was but it is still really damn delicious. And that's what matters.

Spanish Style Eggs Benedict
(serves 2)
Hollandaise sauce
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp water
2 tsp sherry vinegar
6 Tbsp room temperature butter, cut into small cubes
2 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper tt
1 Tbsp white vinegar
4 large chicken eggs
lightly salted boiling water
2 English muffins, halved and toasted
sweet cream butter
4 slices Spanish ham or Serrano ham (or whatever ham you have)
4 warm poached eggs
hollandaise sauce
celery leaves for garnish

Make the hollandaise.
Set up a double boiler. I use a pot of boiling water and place a larger stainless steel bowl over the pot so that the bowl gets steam from the boiling water but doesn't touch the base of the pot. There you go, double boiler. Before putting the bowl over the boiling water, whisk the egg yolks, 2 tsp water, 2 tsp sherry vinegar, pimentón, salt and pepper until fully incorporated and slightly lighter in color (20 seconds). Place the bowl over the boiling water and vigorously whisk while adding in pieces of the butter. If it starts to separate or scramble the eggs pull the pot off the heat to adjust the temperature. As you add the butter the sauce should thicken and become emulsified. After you've whisked in the last bit of butter turn off the heat and season if needed. 
Make the poached eggs.
In a large pot of barely boiling salted water add the vinegar. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Create a whirlpool in the pot by stirring quickly in one circular direction. Carefully add the egg from the bowl to the center of the whirlpool. The circular water motion will help keep the egg from falling apart or disintegrating. Poach for 1-2 minute or until just cooked through. Carefully remove the egg with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat the process until all the eggs are cooked.
Make the Benedict.
Place two halves of the English muffins on a plate. Spread a little butter on them. Place a slice of ham on each. Top each with a poached egg. Cover with a large spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Garnish with pimentón and celery leaves. Pretend it's Mother's day and drink mimosas for lunch. You deserve it. xoxo