Eggs Benedict, along with its siblings Eggs Royal and Eggs Florentine, is up there with the most famous of egg dishes. Traditionally, it’s a toasted muffin, sliced ham, a poached egg and a good lashing of hollandaise. In the old days, ox tongue was used instead of ham – someone once told me that the reason ham or tongue was used was to stop the egg from making the muffin go soggy. I really hope that was true. Here, Dan Doherty merges the world of the salt beef bagel with that of the Benedict for a brunch favourite.
Serves 2 (but makes extra
hollandaise, as making a smaller
portion can be tricky)
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
100g (3.oz) salt beef
1 bagel, halved
1 gherkin, thinly sliced
3 generous tablespoons of
hollandaise (see below)
freshly ground black pepper
250g (9oz) butter, clarified
30ml (1fl oz) white wine
30ml (1fl oz) white wine vinegar
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
sea salt flakes
1 small squeeze of lemon juice
To make the clarified butter for the hollandaise, heat the butter in a small pan over a low heat until the fats and milks separate. Carefully pour off the clear melted butter, leaving the milk sediment in the pan. Discard the sediment. To make the hollandaise, put the wine, vinegar, peppercorns and thyme into a small pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer until reduced by half.
Strain into a mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and whisk over a bainmarie (a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water) until light and fluffy. This should take around 5 minutes. If the water in the pan below the bowl starts to boil, turn off the heat, as there will still be enough heat in the pan to cook the eggs – just be careful they don’t scramble.
Slowly start adding the clarified butter until the mixture has a mayonnaise-like consistency. If it gets too thick, add 1 teaspoon of warm water and that will bring it back to life. Stir in the mustard, season with salt and add the lemon juice. The hollandaise will hold in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. Just be careful it’s not too warm or it may split – next to your stove should be fine. Now turn on your grill and bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the white wine vinegar, then, following the poaching tips below, gently poach your eggs. After 3 minutes, they should be firm on the outside yet still soft in the middle. While the eggs are poaching, warm your salt beef under the hot grill for 1–2 minutes, taking care not to let it dry out. Remove the poached eggs from the pan and put them on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Toast your bagels, then butter them.
To assemble the eggs Benedict, divide the warmed salt beef between the buttered bagel halves, add a few gherkin slices, then put 2 poached eggs on each (if your eggs have lost their heat, just dunk them back in the hot water for 30 seconds, drain on the kitchen paper again, then put them straight on to the salt beef). Spoon over the hollandaise to cover the eggs, season with pepper and you’re good to go.
Poached – Crack each egg into a small ramekin first, rather than straight into the water. Lower the ramekin into the water so it fills up, then, after 20 seconds (or when your fingers can’t take the heat anymore) tip the egg out into the water. Doing it this way tempers the egg so it sets quickly and, most importantly, the fall is shorter, so it is less likely for the yolk to pop out or hit the bottom of the pan with impact, breaking the yolk.
Dan Doherty’s Toast Hash Roast Mash is available here