The perfect egg

Scrambled, “over-easy,” poached, boiled, “sunny side up”… Every one has a favorite.

Imagine life, cuisines and cultures without eggs. Not as a component in reproduction, but as an ingredient in recipes.

It’s an astonishing and unintentional gift from birds to human beings.

A reference to “an egg,” with no other reference, is assumed almost everywhere to mean a hen’s egg, which is what this small story is about.

The hen’s egg is usually the one which carries symbolic significance in spring celebrations and “Easter Foods.” White, brown or speckled is not of importance to the cook, and either one will do where a hen’s egg is called for.

Eggs Benedict has conflicting stories as to its origin, and one of my favorites is, where Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street broker, claimed that he had wandered into The Waldorf Astoria in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and a hooker of Hollandaise.”

Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d’hotel, was so impressed with the dish that he added it to the breakfast and lunch menu but substituted ham for bacon and a toasted English muffin for the toast.

The poaching of an egg is best introduced by Dr Kitchner, who has this to say as a preface to the Moost Aye’s receipt to poach eggs, “The beauty of a poached egg, is to have the yolk seen blushing through the white, which should only be just sufficiently hardened, to form a transparent Veil for the egg.”

Poaching an egg, challenging maybe, is most important in the preparation of  Eggs Benedict.

Start with a large pot, fill it with 3 inches of water, a generous seasoning of salt, and
A “Bouguet Garni” (Tie fresh thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and whole pepper in Cheese cloth) let the pot simmer for a few minutes, remove the “Bouquet Garni.”

Add a splash of apple cider vinegar, and bring the pot to a gentle boil.

5 minutes before serving, crack an egg into a 4 oz ladle and gently lay the eggs into the poaching liquid, NOT touching each other, stir/whirl the water gently, to help shaping the poached egg.

Poach for 2 1/2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon.

Hollandaise Sauce.

Has a reputation of being “difficult.” Fact is that when heated beyond a certain point the sauce will curdle.

Start with:
1 cup white wine
2 cups of water
Juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
6 pepper corn

In a saucepan combine all ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce to a 1/3 of original volume, strain, and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a soft boil.

In a different sauce pan, gently melt 1 pound of good European butter, remove foam from top, keep warm.

In a stainless steel bowl (large enough to host 3 quarts of liquid) add 8 egg yolks,

A pinch of salt and the prepared liquid, place on top of the “double boiler”

And whisk until thickened, turn off the heat.

Slowly add while stirring the melted butter until absorbed.

Season with salt and a squirt of lemon juice if needed.

And finally a hint of Cayenne pepper.

Arrange a slice of heated Canadian Bacon on top of a toasted English Muffin, Gently place a poached egg on the bacon, next ladle on the Hollandaise sauce.

Jan Jorgensen
Chef/Owner Two Chefs Restaurant, Pinecrest

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