Masterclass: How to make perfect eggs benedict

Jill Dupleix's eggs benedict masterclass.
Jill Dupleix's eggs benedict masterclass. Photo: William Meppem

Eggs benny is a great weekend treat, from its toasted muffin and smoked ham to its perfect poached egg and silky hollandaise sauce. These tips will help you meet your brunch goals in no time.

Eggs benedict

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 large fresh eggs
  • 2 English muffins,halved
  • softened butter, for spreading
  • 4 slices smoked ham
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Hollandaise sauce

  • 180g butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • pinch of cayenne or paprika

METHOD

  1. To make the hollandaise, melt the butter in a small pan. In a food processor or blender, whiz the yolks, lemon juice, water, salt and cayenne or paprika until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour the hot, but not bubbling, butter into the yolk mixture – a trickle at first, then a slow stream – until the sauce is thick and glossy. If it is too thick, add another tablespoon of warm water. Keep warm in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water, off the heat.
  2. To poach eggs, heat a large pot of salted water to a gentle simmer. Stir in the vinegar, which will help stabilise the egg whites. Crack an egg into a fine-meshed strainer to drain off the watery part of the egg white, then transfer to a soup ladle. Give the water a strong swirl, and gently lower egg into the water. Poach for 3 minutes (for softly runny), then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining eggs.
  3. Toast the muffin tops and bottoms until crisped at edges, and divide between two plates. Lightly butter and immediately top with generous folds of ham.
  4. Top with a poached egg and spoon hollandaise over to coat. Scatter with chives, season with pepper and serve hot.

Serves 2

TIPS

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  • The trick to a great hollandaise is to incorporate the butter gradually. Too fast, and the sauce may split.
  • Eggs for poaching must be as fresh as possible, or the whites will go all wispy.
  • When poaching, lower the eggs into the water with a soup ladle, and let them float off.

Mix it up

  • Swap toasted muffins for waffles, brioche, toasted baguettes, croissants, crunchy hash browns, roasted mushroom caps or pumpkin wedges.
  • Up the luxe factor with picked crab meat, lobster or prawns instead of ham, and top the hollandaise with salmon roe.
  • Get prepped: poach the eggs beforehand and drop them into icy-cold water to stop the cooking. Reheat in simmering water for 20 seconds.
  • For a classic eggs florentine, swap in furls of smoked or cured salmon and wilted spinach for the ham (see video above).
  • Make an eggs benny burger by adding a sizzling beef patty and crisp bacon. Top with a poached egg and a spoonful of hollandaise mixed with barbecue sauce.
  • Save leftover egg whites and freeze in ice-cube trays for future meringues and macarons (or shake into a round of whisky sours if brunch isn't too early for that sort of thing).