Recipe featured in the Olympia Provisions Cookbook
2 large shallots
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tblsp black peppercorns
1 bottle white wine (go cheap, as you will reduce this to under 2 tablespoons)
1 cup champagne vinegar
1 pound unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
2 tblsp Hollandaise Reduction (above)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tblsp kosher salt8 eggs
4 English Muffins, halved
1 pound thinly sliced Sweetheart Ham
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 bunch chives, thinly sliced
1. To make the hollandaise reduction, slice the shallots into thin rounds and add them, along with the thyme, peppercorns, wine, and vinegar, to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil the mixture until the liquid has reduced to a total volume of 2 tablespoons, about 40 minutes. Strain the liquid through a doubled layer of cheesecloth, lifting the cloth out of the strainer and squeezing it until all the liquid is extracted. Discard the solids and refrigerate the liquid.
2. Preheat a large griddle to medium-high and begin heating a large pot with about 4 inches (10 cm) of water; you’ll want the water simmering when the hollandaise is done. Prepare and assemble your ingredients for the hollandaise and for the final preparation. It all goes quickly once you start, and to serve the best eggs Benedict, you need to have all the pieces hot and ready at the same time.
3. To make the hollandaise, put the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Gently melt the butter, without stirring, until it becomes liquid and separates into fat (floating on top) and milk solids/water (settled at the bottom). While the butter is melting, put the egg yolks in a large flame-resistant bowl along with the hollandaise reduction. Whisk the yolks and reduction until combined. Place the bowl over low heat on your stove and whisk until the yolk mixture is warmed, then start whisking vigorously to aerate the mixture. Keep the bowl over the burner and whisk, whisk, whisk until the mixture starts to hold stiff ribbons. Skim the foam off of the butter. Carefully dip a ladle into the melted butter so that only fat (the clearer top layer) flows into it. Add this clarified butter to the yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream, continually whisking, until the mixture becomes very thick and hard to whisk. At this point, dip your ladle down into the bottom of the butter pan to get some of the milk solids and water there; add this to the yolk mixture, whisking continually, to thin it out. Continue to alternate between clarified butter and milk solids until all the clarified butter has been mixed in and the hollandaise coats the back of a spoon (you may not use all of the milk solids). It’s important to work as quickly as possible when making the hollandaise so it does not get too cool. Finish the sauce by whisking in the lemon juice and kosher salt. Keep in a warm spot near your stove until ready to serve.
4. Once the hollandaise is made and your griddle is hot, it is time to poach the eggs, toast the muffins, and heat the ham. Check that the water you started heating earlier is at a rolling simmer. Crack each egg into a cup or glass to aid in slipping them into the water. Stir the water to create a whirlpool, and quickly slip all of the eggs into the water. Lower the heat so the water is at a gentle simmer, and poach the eggs for 3 to 4 minutes, until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Meanwhile, toast the muffins and heat the ham on the griddle.
5. As the eggs are finishing, place two muffin halves on each of four plates and top each half with a portion of hot ham. With a slotted spoon, lift the eggs from the water and place one atop the ham on each muffin half. Ladle 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) of hollandaise sauce over each. Garnish with smoked paprika, chives, and Maldon salt. Serve with a wedge of Laser Potatoes, if you like.