Eggs ben

RECIPE OVERVIEW

With only three principal components – bread, poached eggs and hollandaise – this is a simple dish, but it requires care and patience. The sauce in particular can curdle if you tackle it too fast, so keep calm, follow the steps and it will work out perfectly.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

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Serves: 4 people

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For the hollandaise sauce

Method

  1. First make the hollandaise. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then keep it on a very gentle simmer.   
  2. Put the egg yolks into a large, spotlessly clean heatproof bowl and add the vinegar, lemon juice and pepper.  Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
  3. Whisk until the mixture becomes light and creamy in both colour and consistency. You need to be very careful because the line between creamy sauce and scrambled eggs is very fine indeed.
  4. Slowly pour in the clarified butter a little at a time, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.  If you can’t manage this easily using both hands, you can take the bowl off the saucepan while adding the butter, then return it to the pan while whisking it in. You may find this a bit tricky, but do persevere – the end result is worth the effort.
  5. If, after adding all the butter, the sauce is a little thick for your liking, whisk in a drop of cold water. Cover the bowl with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and set aside.
  6. If using bacon, preheat the grill (broiler) on its highest setting. When hot, grill (broil) the bacon for 3–4 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm.
  7. Place the bread on the grill (broiler) pan and toast both sides. Spread with the butter.
  8. Next, poach the eggs. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl. Line a plate with kitchen paper (paper towels).
  9. Fill a wide, deep saucepan with a 10cm (4 inch) depth of water. Add the vinegar and salt and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the water is just simmering, with small bubbles rising from the bottom and small ripples across the top.
  10. Using a wooden spoon or whisk, stir the water in one direction to create a whirlpool, then slide the egg into the centre of it, as close to the water as possible. (The whirlpool will help to give your poached eggs a neat shape.)
  11. Cook without stirring for 2–3 minutes if you like a semi-soft yolk, or 3–4 minutes for a firm yolk.  Carefully skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  12. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the egg, place on the prepared plate and keep warm.  Cook the other eggs in the same way.
  13. Place the toasted bread on serving plates, top with the bacon and eggs and spoon over the hollandaise sauce.
  14. Sprinkle with the chives and serve. 

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