I like my food. I like cooking for friends, going to restaurants and picnics. I’ll try any cuisine and any combination of flavours at least once. Obviously I have my preferences and cravings though, and this weekend has been all about Eggs Benedict.
My favourite breakfasts would usually have to be Eggs Royale (essentially just Eggs Benedict but with smoked salmon in place of the ham) or Huevos Rancheros (Google it – best hangover cure you will ever find, trust me), but this weekend I decided to keep it traditional and get myself to my nearest cosy cafe for some much-needed protein to prepare for the heavy weekend ahead.
The Eggs Benedict on Saturday was a triumph – I wanted to eat it again as soon as I finished it. I enjoyed it at the wonderful Do’ Lii on Gloucester Rd, should any of you be in the area and want to try for yourselves. The Eggs Benedict on Sunday was poor. Not even awful – just underwhelming and disappointing in the same way England are at every international football tournament they participate in. Not enough to inspire a shake of the fist toward the heavens, merely a slow and despondent shake of the head.
I shan’t name the establishment responsible for the Bad Breakfast though, as it merely fell at the same hurdles as so many Eggs Benedict have done so before it. I’d rate the ratio of good to bad Eggs Benedicts in the world at any one time at around 1:4. It’s with this in mind that I’ve decided to write a brief guide on how to deliver on all of the components of a perfect Eggs Benedict. Because as much as it’s a simple breakfast, the devil’s in the detail.
Poached, obviously. And properly – not in a microwave (seriously, a friend did this to me once and I genuinely welled up with aghast confusion) and not in one of those weird poaching devices that leaves your eggs essentially soft boiled without the shell – we’re going for interior and exterior texture here so no messing round, y’here? The yolk should be runny and the outside should be soft and easy to gently tear, not cut, into.
English muffins, halved and lightly toasted. If you can’t even get this staple correct you might as well not even bother at all – just go have some Nutella on toast and be done with it.
This is the part I’ve seen even decent establishments balls up. Hollandaise should be reasonably thick, with a texture half-way between fluffy and creamy. It should taste smooth & slightly buttery with a hint of the bitterness from the lemon juice to jazz it up a bit. It should also be served HOT over the eggs. Don’t accept anything less. I know someone who also adds a dash of mustard powder to their sauce, and as much as it does add a cheeky little something, it’s not necessary.
Some prefer theirs with bacon, but I find this throws the balance of the flavours a bit – I’m a bit of a purist and think that a couple of thick slices of good ham are the way to go – but this is one area I’m prepared to let people’s personal preference take the lead.
Aside from basic seasoning, your taste buds should be more than sated by what is already on the plate, so keep any garnishes or flourishes to a minimum. Parsley is acceptable, finely chopped chives are better. A sprinkling of tarragon is just about within acceptability if you’re feeling flouncy. Anything else needs to Stay Away.
You’re all welcome.