Eggs Benedict

Anyone who’s familiar with my blog will notice that the Culinary Institute of America is one of my favorite Web destinations. The CIA site always has interesting tips and recipes as well as cooking demonstrations on video.

Founded in 1946, the CIA is an independent, not-for-profit college offering bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as certificate programs, in either culinary arts or baking and pastry arts. Its alumni include well-known chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, Michael Chiarello, Duff Goldman and Sara Moulton.

I’m lucky to be on the CIA’s e-mailing list, so every few weeks or so, something interesting arrives in my inbox. The most recent correspondence was a feature about Eggs Benedict, which the CIA suggests for Mother’s Day.

I’ve only made Eggs Benedict a couple of times, and the last was so long ago, my memory is a bit foggy.

What I do remember vividly, though, is my first experience with the quintessential brunch dish that features creamy Hollandaise sauce, savory Canadian bacon, tender poached eggs and toasted English muffins. It was in Topeka, Kan., at the home of my then-married friends, Nancy Maxwell and Ted Frederickson, both university professors — she at Washburn University School of Law and he at Kansas University School of Journalism. As I recall, the meal was simply amazing.

Which brings me back to the CIA recipe. After opening the CIA e-mail and reading the Eggs Benedict recipe and then viewing the cooking demos on how to fix the tasty dish, my mouth started to water.

I’m going to give the recipe a try, and suggest you might, too. Following are the recipes for the English muffins, the Hollandaise sauce and the poached eggs as well as links to the demos.

These recipes, along with more than 175 others, are explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of America’s Breakfasts and Brunches cookbook (Lebhar-Freidman 2005, $35), which is available for purchase at bookstores nationwide or at www.ciaprochef.com/fbi/books/Breakfasts&Brunches.html.

Enjoy! 

Eggs Benedict Part 1: English Muffins — www.ciachef.edu/EnglishMuffins

Eggs Benedict Part 2: Poached Eggs — www.ciachef.edu/PoachedEggs

Eggs Benedict Part 3: Hollandaise Sauce — www.ciachef.edu/HollandaiseSauce

Eggs Benedict
16 slices Canadian bacon
16 poached eggs (recipe follows)
8 English muffins (recipe follows), split, toasted, and buttered
2 cups Hollandaise sauce (recipe follows)
Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the Canadian bacon and saute on both sides until heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
If eggs have been poached in advance, reheat them in simmering water until warmed through and blot on toweling. Top each English muffin half with a slice of Canadian bacon and a poached egg. Spoon warm Hollandaise over each egg and serve.
Yield: Serves 8.
English Muffins
1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup water, warmed to 110 degrees
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup cornmeal, or as needed
Oil or solid vegetable shortening, as needed
Place the yeast and warm water in the bowl of a mixer and stir to completely dissolve. Let the yeast proof until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix ingredients together on low speed using the dough hook until all ingredients are blended, about 2 minutes.
Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth, another 5 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Fold the dough gently over on itself in three or four places and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and place on sheet pans that have been heavily dusted with cornmeal. Turn each muffin over to coat both sides with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until slightly risen, about 30 minutes.
Preheat a griddle over medium heat and brush lightly with oil or shortening. Cook the English muffins until lightly brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn the muffins over and cook until golden brown, another 5 minutes.
Split the English muffins by pulling them apart with a table fork. Toast them just before serving. Serve very hot.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritonal analysis per one-ounce serving: 120 calories, 3 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3.5 grams fat, 200 milligrams sodium, 5 milligrams cholesterol, less than 1 gram fiber.
Poached Eggs
3 quarts water, or as needed
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
16 large eggs
Combine the water, salt and vinegar in a deep pan and bring to a gentle simmer.
Break each egg into a clean cup, and carefully slide each egg into the poaching water. Cook until the whites are set and opaque, about 3 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and blot them on absorbent toweling. Serve immediately or store chilled eggs in the refrigerator until needed.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per egg: 90 calories, 6 grams protein, no carbohydrates, 7 grams fat, 95 milligrams sodium, 210 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.
Hollandaise Sauce
½ teaspoon cracked peppercorns
¼ cup white wine or cider vinegar
¼ cup water, or as needed
4 large fresh egg yolks
1½ cups melted whole butter, unsalted
2 teaspoons lemon juice, or as needed
2 teaspoons salt, or as needed
Pinch ground white pepper
Pinch cayenne (optional)
Combine the peppercorns and vinegar in a small pan and reduce over medium heat until nearly dry, about 5 minutes. Add the water to the vinegar reduction. Strain this liquid into a stainless steel bowl.
Add the egg yolks to the vinegar reduction and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook the egg yolk/vinegar mixture until the yolks triple in volume and fall in ribbons from the whisk. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and place it on a clean kitchen towel to keep the bowl from slipping.
Gradually ladle the warm butter into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. If the sauce becomes too thick and the butter is not blending in easily, add a little water to thin the egg mixture enough to whisk in the remaining butter. Season the Hollandaise with lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne if desired. Serve immediately or keep the sauce warm in a bowl over simmering water.
Yield: 2 cups.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 9.5-ounce serving: 730 calories, 29 grams protein, 36 grams carbohydrates, 52 grams fat, 1,420 milligrams sodium, 645 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

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