Eggs: so simple yet so complex. Their uses, versatile and preparation methods, almost endless. As one of my staples in my fridge, I’ll enjoy eggs for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack on any given day. On one hand, they can be very easy to prepare, on the other, it is said that properly cooking an egg is one of the hardest things to do in the kitchen and is ultimately the test of a true chef.
While I had mastered the art of an exquisite French omelet long ago (thanks to the goddess herself, Julia Child), the elusive perfectly-poached egg had always just escaped me – and for a person who’s favorite brunch-time - okay, anytime - item is Eggs Benedict, you can imagine this was quite maddening. I had looked up tips on the internet; add a splash of vinegar to your water, only fill your pot with a few inches of water, bring your water to a rapid boil then bring it down to a simmer before adding the egg, etc.
Finally, during Culinary Boot Camp, my quest was completed. Not only was combining all of the tips above helpful, we also broke the egg into a shallow dish first so that the process of placing the egg into the water was as gentle as possible, you could just slide the egg in, just like The Chopping Block's Owner/Chef Shelley Young does in her video.
We also let the white part of the egg set just a tiny bit before using a slotted spoon to fold the white back over itself so it didn’t get as ‘wispy’ as usual and instead stayed in its perfect orb-like form.
For those of you who have been on a similar mission, you know exactly what I’m talking out. Since we had learned to make a silky, smooth Hollandaise sauce earlier in Boot Camp, I was ready to recreate my favorite restaurant dish in my own home… every single weekend. Side note: until I learned how to make Eggs Benedict, it never really occurred to me that this dish (which involves hollandaise, an egg based sauce served over poached eggs) is actually putting eggs on top of eggs, but it now explains my deep love for it.
My renewed obsession with eggs didn’t stop at benedicts, poached and their more simple cousin, over-easy. Eggs are no longer just a breakfast additional ingredient. I started putting the “incredible edible” egg on everything: salads, vegetables, Ramen, burgers, you name it. The juicy yet still-a-bit firm texture adds a pop of protein to my meals and elevates the dish as a whole, making it feel much more like a restaurant experience, especially since that seems to be a culinary trend these days. Even better yet, making dishes like this at home won’t cost you the $1 that restaurants usually tack on – the average cost of an egg in the U.S., even now at its highest rate ever, is about $0.21 each.
This ode to eggs is only scratching the surface, I haven’t even gone into what you can do with some frothy egg-whites! Everything from fancy summer cocktails to meringue pies, soufflés and macarons, when you get creative, some pretty great stuff can come out of this humble ingredient.
I’ve included our recipe for a super easy Hollandaise sauce below but since both the sauce and poaching an egg often take multiple attempts to perfect, I encourage you to be on the lookout for some classes, in addition to our Boot Camp that I’ve already mentioned, that will help you become more comfortable with these awesome and impressive skills including Sauce Boot Camp, Gastropub Gastronomy and more coming up this fall.
Easier-Than-Ever Hollandaise Sauce
Yield: 1 cup
Active time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 15 minutes
The gentle heating of the eggs and butter together in conjunction with continuous whisking brings this silky, luxurious emulsified sauce together. This simple technique is the closest to the classic original found in Escoffier’s renowned cookbook Le Guide Culinaire.
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 stick butter, cut into 1 tablespoon-size pieces
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the yolks, water, lemon juice and butter in a slope-sided saucier pan.
- Place over medium-low heat and whisk until the butter melts. Continue to whisk until the sauce becomes thick and is steaming, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm.