An eggs Benedict recipe. How could I do anything else for the New York City edition of our Weekend Eggs series on quintessential eggs dishes around the world? Could there be a more quintessential New York eggs dish than eggs Benedict? An eggs Bennie is to New Yorkers what smashed avocado and poached eggs is to Aussies.
New Yorkers love their café breakfasts as much as Australians do and they appear to love their eggs Benedict as much as Aussies love their smashed avocado on toast. We’ve been enjoying eating breakfast out at local cafes here at our home away from home in East Village of New York City.
Probably the most popular item on any New York café brunch menu is eggs Benedict: a toasted English muffin, some good ham (often from Canada), soft-poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, perhaps some chives for colour, and a slightly peppery counterpoint flavour.
Lara had an especially delicious eggs Benedict with a Moroccan twist at Cafe Mogador here in the East Village, but I wanted to do a more classic eggs Benedict recipe for the New York City edition of our Weekend Eggs series on quintessential eggs dishes around the world.
Eggs Benedict Recipe for New York City Edition of Weekend Eggs from Around the World
While this eggs Benedict recipe will make you a weekend eggs dish that never goes out of style, I’ll let you in on a little secret: eggs Benedict is a dish I’ve always used to test out cafés I’m reviewing. Why? While eggs Benedict appears deceptively simple, it requires skill to get it perfect – and get it to the table hot.
I’ve made poached eggs a couple of times for our Weekend Eggs series during the first few months of this yearlong global grand tour* but poaching eggs in a commercial restaurant situation is a completely different situation. (*Update: I ended up making poached eggs for this huevos rancheros recipe (which includes a video) in Austin, Texas, and Mexico City, after we left New York.)
Whether poaching the eggs beforehand and holding them so that they’re still soft-centred after reheating, or poaching them to order in a busy kitchen, with orders piling up, requires skill.
It’s all too easy to overcook the eggs, have them turn out tasting of vinegar from the poaching process, have them arrive stone cold, or have them arrive as a stringy mess from bad technique.
Hollandaise sauce (essentially warmed egg yolks, clarified butter, cracked pepper, salt, lemon juice, white wine or white wine vinegar, and cayenne pepper) can test even the most accomplished chefs. Making Hollandaise is an art requiring great timing, plenty of wrist action with a whisk, and a keen eye.
The Hollandaise sauce can easily split or curdle. The finished sauce is thick in texture, but fluffy – not easy to achieve. And a batch should not be held for more than an hour unless you like making people ill – although some disagree on just how long you can hold the sauce.
One of our favourite cafés in Sydney, Australia, which we used to frequent every weekend when we were first starting to become a little obsessed with food, would turn out hundreds of plates of eggs Benedict over a weekend.
One cook’s only job was to keep making batches of hollandaise, while another poached eggs continuously, and yet another assembled the dishes of eggs Benedict. They were consistently delicious.
One of the reasons making eggs Benedict at a cafe is generally expensive is because of the labour involved. It’s okay to pay $18–$20 for eggs Benedict if it’s made well. But that’s a big if. I’ve seen it done with horrifying ‘Hollandaise’ from a Tetra-Pak carton.
I’ve seen fatty, greasy bacon (as if the hollandaise itself isn’t calorific enough) used instead of ham. I’ve seen French baguettes instead of the classic English muffin. I’ve seen cold eggs placed on the muffin, sauce pored over, and then the dish placed in a broiler to heat the eggs.
I once had all the aforementioned crimes against eggs Benedict presented on the one plate. So why would you bother wasting time making my eggs Benedict recipe when you can go to a café and order it?
If you know a place that does eggs Benedict well, doesn’t break any of the rules, and doesn’t charge like a wounded bull for it, I say don’t bother making this eggs Benedict recipe at home. That is, unless you’re really interested in cooking.
Why? Because hollandaise is one of the mother sauces of French cooking and learning to make Hollandaise sauce gives you skills that will serve you well. What are you waiting for?
Here are some tips to how to make a classic eggs Benedict recipe.
Tips for Making this Eggs Benedict Recipe
This eggs Benedict recipe outlines the classic way of making the dish. It’s my favourite way of making it and it’s the more complex, traditional way of making eggs Benedict.
Our eggs Benedict recipe calls for sliced shallots, cracked pepper and vinegar to be simmered in a pan until almost dry, then a couple of tablespoons of water are added to make a reduction.
The eggs are added, and then clarified butter and lemon juice to taste. It’s rich and delicious.
I like to ‘cook’ the sauce in a metal mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water), lifting the bowl out of the pot to control the temperature. And controlling the temperature is very important.
A problem that most people strike with any eggs Benedict recipe is that the eggs start to cook. If this does happen, take the bowl off the heat and add an ice cube, stirring vigorously to bring the temperature down.
Tips to How to Make Hollandaise Sauce for Eggs Benedict
A common problem people find when making a classic eggs Benedict recipe is that the Hollandaise sauce can ‘split’ or ‘break’, which is when you can see a separation of the eggs and ‘water’.
The best fix is to have another mixing bowl with a tablespoon of warm water in it and then add the hollandaise slowly to this while stirring vigorously. Another method is to have a whisked egg yolk in another bowl and slowly add the hollandaise mix to it.
A couple of final notes on the Hollandaise sauce for this eggs Benedict recipe…
Hollandaise should be ‘lemony’ and rich and have a little cayenne pepper in it. Some would argue that Hollandaise is only butter, egg yolks and lemon juice.
Some people don’t like it lemony or with cayenne pepper – it’s still Hollandaise sauce if it’s not too ‘lemony’ or doesn’t has cayenne pepper, it’s just not the classic version of Hollandaise sauce.
There are Hollandaise sauce recipes around that mention ‘Hollandaise’ and ‘blender’ in the one sentence. If you do want to go that route, make it the classic way first for this eggs Benedict recipe so that you understand the difference.
Eggs Benedict Recipe
- Hollandaise sauce - see recipe below
- 4 large farm fresh - free-range eggs
- 2 English muffins sliced in half
- Plenty of slices of good quality ham
- 1 bunch of chives
- Toast the muffin slices.
- Place the ham on the muffin slices.
- Top with the poached eggs and the warm sauce.
- Add chopped chives and serve immediately.
- If you’ve pulled it off, champagne goes very well with this dish!
Hollandaise Sauce Recipe
- 1 shallot - chopped finely
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- a few peppercorns
- a bay leaf
- ¼ cup water
- 4 large farm fresh - free-range eggs — yolk only
- 200 ml clarified butter
- lemon juice to taste - 1–2 tablespoons
- cayenne pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- Add the first 4 ingredients to a pan over medium high heat and simmer until nearly dry
- Add the water and reduce a little again, then strain.
- In a metal mixing bowl, add the eggs and the reduction.
- Over a pot of simmering water, whisk the eggs and the vinegar reduction with a wire whisk until it thickens — but doesn’t start to scramble.
- Add a little of the clarified butter and incorporate that into the sauce fully.
- Slowly add the rest of the butter, making sure to incorporate it fully.
- The mix should have the consistency of thickened cream and a glossy surface. Remove from the heat.
- Add a little salt, a little lemon juice, and a little cayenne pepper to taste.
- The sauce can now be ‘held’ in a warm place for around an hour. Add a little water if it becomes to thick.
Published 30 July 2010; Last Updated 30 January 2023
Please do let us know in the Comments below if you make our eggs Benedict recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.