Tender-crisp asparagus puts a fresh twist on the classic Eggs Benedict recipe.
Eggs Benedict has always been one of those dishes that I thought was too fussy to make at home.
It was a special treat that I reserved for fancy brunches at restaurants, like the Windsor Arms Sunday brunch, and quite frankly it looked like too much work for breakfast at home.
When you break the dish down though, it's really not that complicated: two toasted English muffin halves, a slice of ham or Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and a generous spoonful of Hollandaise sauce.
If you use jarred Hollandaise sauce, the hardest part of this recipe will be poaching the eggs. Which isn't that hard once you know what you're doing!
I decided to change up my Eggs Benedict a bit and add some fresh spring asparagus instead. It's a great way to get a serving of veggies in at breakfast (and helps to offset the richness of the heavy Hollandaise sauce).
Challenges with Making Eggs Benedict
My biggest stumbling blocks with this recipe were the poached eggs and the Hollandaise sauce because I had never made either of those things before.
I know, I know, I'm in my 30's and I've never poached an egg? What??
Honestly, I don't really like poached eggs so I've never felt the need to make them. While I do enjoy runny yolks, I'd rather have a fried egg with crispy edges than a soft poached egg.
I wanted to make my Eggs Benedict with the proper eggs though, so I decided to learn how to poach them.
I wish I had videotaped my attempts at poaching the egg, because I'm sure it would have been hilarious to watch. What a disaster!
Initially, I followed Bon Appetit's instruction on How to Make Stress-Free Poached Eggs, which should probably be renamed to How to Totally Overcomplicate Poached Eggs.
Their first instruction is to crack the egg into a fine-mesh sieve, and allow the watery parts of the white to drain out. I managed to tear the yolk on the sieve twice.
Then, you're supposed to make a "gentle vortex", slide the eggs in, and continue to stir so the whites wrap around the yolk. Again, my yolks tore and I ended up with a big mess.
It's possible that I'm just really aggressive when I'm cooking, but this method just did not work for me at all. I also realized that pouring the egg in from a height causes the whites to explode upon contact with the water, which separates it from the yolk.
Boiling the water (instead of simmering) has a similar effect. You can see some of my failures above.
I eventually found Jamie Oliver's method for poaching eggs and learned how to poach eggs properly. After doing some quick internet research, his way seems to be the common way to do it.
(No one else is straining their eggs Bon Appetit. No one.)
Anyhow, the most important thing to know when it comes to poaching eggs is that fresh eggs work best, and being gentle with them is key to making them look nice.
Using a custard cup to gently plop the eggs into the water eliminates the chance of them breaking on impact. Simmering water is hot enough to cook the eggs, but again gentle enough not to break them. Using a slotted spoon makes removing the poached eggs from the water super easy.
If your eggs aren't that fresh, you can try spinning the water with a spoon BEFORE adding the eggs and then gently tip the egg in. The circular movement of the water can help shape the eggs, without you having to worry about breaking them with your spoon.
The Hollandaise sauce actually wasn't that difficult to make, but it is time-consuming and you have to pay attention to what you're doing.
If you'd rather not make Hollandaise from scratch, I won't judge you. Most of the time I don't feel like making it either. Sometimes you just want to eat and not go through all the fuss!
I adapted the Hollandaise sauce recipe from Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook, and my version has less butter so it's not as rich. I like that her version uses room temperature butter instead of melted butter, because it makes the sauce less likely to split.
A few important things to keep in mind when making Hollandaise sauce is that you need to control your temperature and work carefully.
Don't let the top bowl of the double boiler touch the water or the eggs will scramble. Make sure the water is simmering, not boiling, so the eggs cook gently.
Add the butter slowly, so the sauce emulsifies and doesn't split.
Or just use the store-bought stuff, poach an egg, toast your bread, cook your asparagus and get on with your day. Either way if fine!
I like serving these on hot buttered toast, but feel free to use English muffins if you prefer. Also, if you'd rather not add the pan-fried asparagus spears, the recipe will still be great without them.
No matter what you add or substitute, just remember to season your eggs with salt and pepper so they're tasty.
I know this seems like a lot (if you're new to this recipe) but once you get the hang of putting this dish together, you'll be whipping up Eggs Benedict with asparagus for Sunday brunch in no time.
Eggs Benedict with Asparagus
- ½ teaspoon oil, for cooking
- 12 asparagus spears, trimmed, cut in half
- 4 slices bread, toasted
- 3 large egg yolks
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- 4 fresh eggs
- Add oil to a small skillet or non-stick pan and place over medium-high heat. Cook the asparagus for about 5-10 minutes, or until browned and tender-crisp. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Set aside for later.
- Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, add egg yolks to a heatproof bowl (on the counter) and whisk until they become pale in colour.
- Place the bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water.
- Whisk the yolks constantly but gently. Cook the yolks until they have thickened, which takes about 3 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time, whisking constantly, making sure that each tablespoon is incorporated completely before adding the next.
- Once all the butter has been added, season the sauce with lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. Your Hollandaise should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not stiff. If it is too thick, thin it with a little water.
- The sauce is best if used immediately, however, it can sit for about an hour in a Thermos, if needed. Leftover sauce can be reheated over low heat, with a little bit of water and melted butter whisked in.
- In a large saucepan, heat water over medium heat until simmering.
- Crack each egg, one at a time, into a small bowl, then gently slide each one into the simmering water. Make sure to tip the eggs in close to the surface of the water – not from a height.
- Cook the eggs until whites are set and yolks are still soft - about 3 minutes. Then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place on a plate.
To Assemble the Eggs Benedict:
- Butter the slices of toast, and arrange 3 asparagus spears on each piece. Carefully place one egg on each piece of toast, and top with a generous spoonful of the hollandaise sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
See blog post for detailed tips and explanations.
Please note that these nutritional values are only an estimate, and have been generated from a database using generic products.
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