Friday, March 4, 2011

Poached Eggs and Hollandaise

For this week's recipe from one of my grandmother's cookbooks, I chose to make poached eggs and hollandaise sauce from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I made deviled eggs last night, which my husband and I nearly instantaneously devoured, so I was kind of on an egg kick already.

I loved the scene in the film Julie & Julia where Julie attempts to make poached eggs, and I thought there was no way it could be that hard. My cooks at work do it all the time and it never turns out like that soupy mess she made. But I hadn't yet done it myself, so I figured now was the time to learn.

I felt like the poached egg thing was kind of cheating because I already knew the basics on how to poach an egg (just break the egg over boiling water and wait til it's done cooking), and so it wasn't much of a recipe. So, I opted to do two "recipes" this week and finally learn how to make hollandaise sauce as well, because, let's face it, I wanted to learn how to take angels and unicorns and make them into the most delicious elixir known to man.

Surprisingly, Julia's recipe did not call for angels, unicorns, or any other mythical creatures. I chose the blender recipe (p. 81-2), which is actually incredibly simple and still tremendously yummy. Julia claims an 8-year-old child could make it, and I'm fairly certain that's still true. Here is the recipe, it makes about 3/4 cup:

3 egg yolks
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
1 stick butter

Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, and seasonings in the blender jar (or the Magic Bullet).
Cut the butter into pieces and heat it to foaming hot in a small saucepan (or microwave).
Cover the jar and blend the egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds. Uncover, and still blending (or not, in my case), immediately start pouring on the hot butter in a thin stream of droplets. (You may need to protect yourself with a towel during this operation.) By the time two thirds of the butter has gone in, the sauce will be a thick cream. Omit the milky residue at the bottom of the butter pan. Taste the sauce, and blend in more seasonings if necessary.
(*) If not used immediately, set the jar in tepid, but not warm, water.

Done. 3/4 cup of Heaven ready to go. This recipe is much more lemony than the one we use at work, but it's quite amazing and I have zero complaints. However, since it's on the lemony side, I would not be opposed to halving the amount of lemon and focusing on the delicious buttery goodness.

Next I began to make my poached eggs. Here is Julia's recipe:

Pour 2 inches of water into the pan or skillet and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per quart of water. Bring to the simmer.
Break one of the eggs, and, holding it as closely over the water as possible, let it fall in. Immediately and gently push the white over the yolk with a wooden spoon for 2 to 3 seconds. Maintain the water at the barest simmer and proceed with the other eggs in the same manner. After 4 minutes, remove the first egg with the skimmer and test with your finger. The white should be set, the yolk still soft to the touch. Place the egg in the cold water; this washes off the vinegar and stops the cooking. Remove the rest of the eggs as they are done, and poach others in the same water if you are dong more.
(*) The eggs may remain for several hours in cold water, or may be drained and refrigerated.

Alright, I said, this seems simple enough. I broke my first egg and, mere centimeters from the water, I dropped it in. I went for the wooden spoon, but it was already too late. The whites had gone everywhere. I tried to keep them together, but it just would not happen. Here is the final result.

I'd like to call this style of egg "Poached Scrambled"

So, that was an utter failure. For the second egg, I ditched the wooden spoon and went for the larger silicon spoon thinking, the only reason Julia didn't use a silicon spoon was because she didn't have one. I decided this time to put the spoon in the water so that it would be immediately ready to rein in the wily whites. I tried to get even closer to the water when I dropped in the second egg, and once again the whites went everywhere. I did manage to keep the egg intact, though, as you can see below.

This one actually looks like it could've been served at the restaurant, but certainly not one of our best.

So Egg #2 was a solid improvement, but I wanted more. This time, I thought, what if I crack the egg into the spoon and then put the spoon and egg in the water simultaneously? Brilliant, I thought. So I set the spoon down on the stove top, cracked open the egg over the spoon and then...

Yeah... that's Egg #3 down there.

The egg managed to slide right off the spoon, through the heat coils and down through the dip pan into limbo. I momentarily panicked not knowing how to get the egg out of there. Will it fall into the oven? Will it just burn up when I use those coils next? What if my stove smells like eggs forever?! Luckily, the drip pan actually comes right off and I could stick my hand and a paper towel down into limbo to snatch it up.

Not to be deterred by this obviously bad idea, I tried it again. This time, however, I realized that there's more in the egg than can fit in the spoon, but I managed to keep it mostly together until it got to the water, where it once again went everywhere.

Egg #4

The end result was better than the poached scrambled monstrosity known as Egg #1, but not nearly as good as Egg #2, in which the yolk was still soft, but I figured I at least had enough egg to make a sort of Eggs Benedict with my creations.

I toasted and buttered a large piece of sourdough bread and topped it with Egg #2 and Egg #4 and then smothered the whole thing in my hollandaise (which I reheated immediately prior). It was phenomenal.


I garnished with a little paprika, but forgot to take a picture afterward (actually, I was just really hungry). But as I said, great breakfast and once I master egg poaching, it should be relatively easy to repeat.

No comments:

Post a Comment