I don't know of many ways I would rather start the day than with Eggs Benedict. I use the name loosely of course as I have many variations on the original - that is poached eggs sitting on ham, usually on a toasted muffin and then swathed in lots of lemony hollandaise. I hardly ever use ham actually, I prefer crispy bacon or smoked salmon (hot or cold smoked), and then sometimes I will add in baby spinach or asparagus just to mix it up a bit. So really it sometimes doesn't look like Eggs Benedict at all - the only musts are poached eggs and plenty of hollandaise!
I have long had a love affair with hollandaise (even if my thighs don't!). Once I mastered making it I have become relied on by many to make it when they visit, it is one of those things that I love being able to rustle up to impress! The only problem is all that butter.......which is why I have cut down on the frequency of making this dish, it has been a good few months since I last served it up! My recipe for hollandaise is a cobble together of a number of recipes, from Taste, Stephanie Alexander, Annabel Langbein and Edmonds! This final recipe that I have come up with works very reliably so I am sticking with it! It makes alot, probably enough for 6 greedy people, I can't seem to bring myself to scale it down as I hate the idea of not having enough (even though I always have plenty!). In my opinion though it is ALWAYS better to have too much than too little! My son licked his plate cleaned and pronounced firstly how much nicer it was than any he had tasted in a cafe, and then that it was sooooo much cheaper too! That boy knows how to get on my good side! I used the leftover bread from last nights soup, it worked perfectly being slightly toasted.
4 egg yolks
juice of one lemon
pinch salt and good grind of pepper
200g butter (melted)
good dollop of whole grain mustard
Whisk eggs yolks, lemon, salt and pepper in a large wide bowl. Slowly pour in melted butter, incorporate gradually, as you would if making mayonnaise. Pop a pot of water over heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Place the bowl on top (to get an indirect, steamy heat) and keep whisking continuously until the sauce thickens. I have become adept at spotting the right point to take it off the heat, but the best test is to coat the back of a spoon and run your finger through, (as you would for custard)- if it makes a clear line without running together again it is ready. Make sure you keep stirring it as it cools down, otherwise it could split (nothing worse!!). I haven't split a hollandaise in years, so give it a go!!!!
When poaching the eggs I always add a tbsp or so of white vinegar to the water which helps the eggs to hold their shapes better.