Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bacon Benedict

As we glory in our successes, so too must we admit of our failures. I have long maintained that there is very little point in making eggs benedict for yourself at home. It's not only difficult, but time consuming, and produces a lot of dirty dishes, and in the end, gosh, just get in the car and shell out the money to have it done right, with minimal effort on your part. Nonetheless, I occasionally dream of perfecting eggs benedict at home. First off, if you can do it, you will make someone's day*. I mean, seriously - they get all the joy of eggs benedict with none of the wait or expenditure**. Also, some friends of mine have done it, and they actually make it sound fun. So there has long been this small part of me that has wanted to actually make the attempt.

Furthermore, today is Valentine's Day. Which means that all of my favorite breakfast spots will invariably be full of moon-eyed couples on their annual outing (ditto for dinner)***. So I decided to shift for myself in the domicile. As it happened (which it doesn't, all that often), I had both lemons and english muffins, so I thought, hey, benedict. Let's do it. I didn't have canadian bacon, but I figured regular would do. I discovered that I only had 4 eggs, so that was a problem, but hey, we'd soldier on.

So first off - timing wise, eggs benedict are a nightmare. You have to make the Hollandaise, poach the eggs, fry the bacon, and (if you so choose), fry the English muffins in the bacon grease. The smartest thing to do is to make the hollandaise first - once it's done, it can rest happily without any real problems. But I for some reason decided to do it all at once. This led to burnt English muffins, poorly poached eggs, and an utterly failed Hollandaise.

Here's how hollandaise works - you combine egg yolks, lemon juice, and some salt and whisk em together. Then, you want to heat them up. Not too much - not so much that the eggs will actually cook - just enough to thicken them. Then you wanna add a shit-ton of butter. The proportions vary here - because I was making it for just me and was low on eggs, I did 1 stick of butter, two egg yolks, and the juice from half a lemon. Which probably would have worked out fine, if I had done it right.

Obviously, the tricky part is the heating. I tried Alton Brown's method, which is to get a saucepan of water simmering, then lower the heat, and place your mixing bowl in it and whisk away. This unfortunately proved too hot, my eggs clumped up, and the sauce was ruined. Because whisk as you will, once the eggs do that, no amount of whisking will restore them to a thick liquid form. It's game over. But I had no other eggs, so hell, I ate the whole monstrosity anyhow.

Note the flecks of cooked eggs and the runnyness. Le sigh.

But you know what? It was actually pretty effin' tasty anyhow. I ended up toasting another english muffin just to sop up the remainder. So it was actually a pretty righteous breakfast.

Still, I don't think I'll attempt it again for a very, very long time, if ever.

*It is absolutely key here that you not only learnt to do it, but learn to do it calmly. Being tense and frustrated SHIT! I FUCKED UP THE FUCKING HOLLANDAISE AGAIN! AAAAARRRRGGGH! kind of ruins the whole effect.

**Seriously, if you bust this one out after the first night you spend with someone, all like "oh hey, feel like some breakfast? lemme throw something together, you wait right here", that person will probably want to marry you. I know I would.

*** HEY! ASSHOLES! I know some of you don't go to restaurants all that much, so maybe you're not aware of how things work. Allow me to enlighten you - TIP YOUR SERVERS! Oprah be damned, tip your servers 20%. Realize that this is their livelihood. My Valentine works in the industry, and though he gets way more tables on Valentine's Day than most any other, it is also the absolute worst day for tipping. I'm not kidding. One of his coworkers received a $10 tip on a $400 tab. It's ridiculous. Don't be a jerk.

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