Alton Brown is arguably the king of the home kitchen. With innovative techniques and a delivery method unlike any other celebrity chef, Alton is the cooking equivalent of Bill Nye the Science Guy. In fact, I’d say Alton Brown made a huge impact on my decision to learn to cook from watching shows like “Good Eats” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” on the Food Network.
When I learned Alton Brown’s cooking was the challenge this week, I was instantly excited. I tried different Alton-inspired recipes all week, including single-serving chicken pot pie and guacamole – but neither made me feel like I was actually channeling Alton.
I immediately knew what I wanted to make – Eggs Benedict.
Here’s What You Need
- English muffins, toasted: The base for the Eggs Benedict, providing a crispy and flavorful texture.
- Canadian bacon: Adds a savory and smoky flavor to the dish.
- Eggs: Poached eggs are the star of Eggs Benedict, providing a luscious and creamy element.
- Lemon juice: Adds a tangy and refreshing taste to the hollandaise sauce.
- Cayenne pepper: Provides a subtle heat and depth of flavor to the hollandaise sauce.
- Sugar: Balances the flavors of the hollandaise sauce by adding a touch of sweetness.
- Butter: Helps to create a rich and smooth consistency in the hollandaise sauce.
- Salt: Enhances the overall taste of the dish, adding seasoning to the eggs, bacon, and hollandaise sauce.
- White vinegar: Used when poaching eggs to help them retain their shape and prevent overcooking.
Let’s Get Started
I’ve actually never attempted to make hollandaise sauce or poach an egg before, so I was especially excited to get started and actually learn something new in the kitchen. I can officially say this recipe will now be a permanent addition to my arsenal of frequently cooked meals.
To begin, bring a pan with an inch and a half of water to a simmer. It’s a good idea to add the eggs into individual bowls in the bottom of the pan to help them keep their shape. Simmer the eggs for about 4-5 minutes, but make sure to check their fluidity at around the 3-minute mark to avoid overcooking them.
While your eggs are poaching, let’s start on the hollandaise sauce.
This recipe, while not necessarily difficult, does require a lot of attention to cooking time, especially when making the hollandaise sauce.
Begin by separating 3 egg yolks into a saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of water, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and a 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne pepper to the yolks.
Whisk quickly over medium-low heat for 10-15 seconds at a time. It’s important to note that if the stove is too hot, it can scramble the eggs, so be sure not to leave the yolks on the burner for too long. Aim for a custardy consistency.
Gradually add in the butter, 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
Once the hollandaise sauce is nicely thick and smooth, add in the sugar and a dash more of cayenne and lemon juice for an extra kick.
Meanwhile, if desired, cook up some Canadian bacon and toast some English muffins in the oven. When the eggs and sauce are ready, it’s time to serve!
If you aren’t going to serve the eggs right away (or poorly plan the time it will take to cook the hollandaise), you can pop them into an ice bath to prevent them from cooking further. When you’re ready to serve, simply reheat them in some warm water.
Helpful Tips & Tricks
- Poaching eggs: To achieve perfectly poached eggs, make sure the water is just below a simmer. Adding vinegar to the water helps the eggs retain their shape. Also, crack each egg into a separate bowl before gently sliding it into the water to avoid any shell pieces.
- Hollandaise sauce consistency: Whisk the hollandaise sauce frequently and heat it over low to medium-low heat to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can whisk in a little warm water or lemon juice to loosen it up.
- Keeping eggs warm: If you’re not serving the eggs immediately, place them in an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Then, when you’re ready to serve, reheat them by placing them in warm water for a minute or two.
- Toasting English muffins: For extra flavor, you can lightly butter the cut sides of the English muffins before toasting them in the oven. It adds a lovely crispness and enhances the overall taste of the dish.
- Balancing flavors: Taste the hollandaise sauce before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. If you prefer a spicier sauce, you can add a pinch more cayenne pepper. If you like it tangier, a little extra lemon juice can do the trick.
- Presentation: When plating, consider garnishing your Eggs Benedict with a sprinkle of fresh herbs like chopped chives or parsley. It adds a pop of color and a touch of freshness to the dish.
Eggs Benedict is a classic brunch dish that never fails to impress. The rich and creamy hollandaise sauce beautifully complements the perfectly poached eggs, while the Canadian bacon and toasted English muffins add a delightful savory touch. With Alton Brown’s innovative techniques and attention to detail, you can recreate this dish with confidence and enjoy a gourmet breakfast or brunch right at home.
So, hungry people, don your aprons, gather your ingredients, and let’s channel our inner Alton Brown as we create this delectable Alton Brown-inspired Eggs Benedict!
Alton Brown’s Eggs Benedict
- Bring 1 and a half inches of water to just below a simmer in a large pan. Place 4 custard bowls in the bottom of the pan so they are covered with about 1/4 inch of water. Pour in white vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F to toast the English muffins. Heat a pan over medium heat and julienne the Canadian bacon. Add it to the hot pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through while you prepare the eggs and hollandaise sauce.
- As the water is heating up, turn a stovetop burner to low to medium-low heat. In a small saucepan, combine 2 egg yolks with a tablespoon of water, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Stir well to combine, then heat for 10-15 second intervals to warm but not scramble the yolks.
- Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the saucepan while continuing to only heat for 10-15 seconds at a time as the butter melts and is incorporated into the sauce. The sauce's consistency should be smooth and viscous.
- When the water has reached about 200°F, use another bowl to carefully drop each egg into the individual custard bowls. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the whites have set.
- Stir in the sugar, remaining salt, and remaining lemon juice and cayenne pepper into the hollandaise sauce.
- Remove each egg from the warm water with a slotted spoon. Let them drain on a paper towel for a few seconds before removing any rough edges.
- Arrange the cooked Canadian bacon on top of each toasted English muffin. Place a poached egg on top and add a few spoonfuls of hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately with fresh fruit and hot coffee. Enjoy!