Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Daring Cooks December 2010: Poaching Eggs

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Ok, so I cheated with this. I have poached several eggs over the last month but I never managed to have enough time to make hollandaise sauce to go with it, so unfortunately I just had poached egg on toast. It is one of my favourite quick breakfasts and I used it to practice poaching eggs. I also seem to have had the busiest month ever and have been sick for the last week, so forgive me for not doing this properly but I did do the poaching bit and it was very tasty!

Eggs Benedict

4 eggs (size is your choice)
2 English muffins
4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
Chives, for garnish
Splash of vinegar (for poaching)

For the hollandaise (makes 1.5 cups):
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. (5 ml) water
¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
12 tbsp. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.

2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.

3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.

4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.

5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.

6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).

7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.

8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.

9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.

10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.

11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.

12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!


  1. Poached eggs is one of those things that you never give thought to when you have them in a restaurant, but is surprising difficult to do well at home. My mother would stir the simmering water into a whirlpool and drop the egg into the center to keep it from spreading out too much. I've tried that method, a stove-top poacher, and a microwave poacher. None of them are satisfactory and it would be embarrassing at my age to ask my mother to do it for me. Congratulations for doing it successfully.

    In addition to Eggs Benedict, poached eggs are put on top of such humble American fare as corned beef hash.

    There is a perfectly adequate way of making the hollandaise sauce using a blender. I can't tell the difference from the handmade variety.

  2. No need to be embarrassed the challenge was to poach not to make eggs benedict that was just an example recipe.

    Poached eggs on toast is a wonder so well done on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.