Have you ever noticed that Eggs Benedict is expensive, even in restaurants that specialize in cheap, hearty breakfasts? And it’s not a dish that most people make at home. Hollandaise Sauce, the heavenly topping that turns poached eggs into Benedict, is a royal pain to make. It’s one of those sauces that involves plenty of stirring over a hot water bath, and has 17 different ways to fail. OK, there are probably fewer than 17 ways to mess up this sauce, but one recipe comes with its own “fix the sauce” page. See here — I am not joking. However, I have a “faux” Hollandaise sauce that is healthier and works every time. Even better, you make it in the microwave.
If you are a purist, stop reading now. I change anything in this dish to fit the ingredients I have on hand, and even my mood. The one I am showing here has plain bacon, not Canadian bacon or ham, and a half-bagel, not an English muffin. The bacon is what I always have on hand — good, honest bacon from a local butcher. I often have bagels, because the bakery where I buy my bread is a Jewish bakery, and their bagels are wonderful. (I’ve actually never seen English muffins made in-store. I do try to buy from the people who make what I eat when I can.) I’ve even been known to substitute tomato for the bacon during tomato season.
Note: I have separated the sections below, but you can:
- poach the eggs while the sauce cooks;
- toast the bread while the eggs cook;
- cook the bacon while the sauce thickens
Make the sauce
Start with the sauce. For one serving, pour ½ cup milk into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. If you require two servings, use a 4-cup measuring cup. The sauce is cooked in the measuring cup, and will boil up during cooking. Note: For more than 2 servings, you may find it just as quick to use the same ingredients, but bring the mixture to a boil in a pot on the stove. You will have to stir frequently.
Add 1 tablespoon of flour to the milk, and stir well. If you have the time, leave the flour and milk for a few minutes and stir again. The extra soak time for the flour helps to make a smooth sauce. Add salt and pepper, a dash of dry mustard powder (use a bit of prepared mustard if you don’t have the dry — but get some dry mustard. It’s a wonderful ingredient to boost the flavor of sauces.) I like a bit of cayenne powder as well, not enough to make it hot, just another flavor boost.
Cook the milk mixture in the microwave on high for 1½ to 2 minutes (increase all cooking times for larger amounts). Stir well.
There will almost certainly be some thick spots at the bottom of the sauce, so make sure to get them well mixed in. Cook on high for another minute or two, depending on your microwave.
You want to sauce boiling up the side of the measuring cup for 10-20 seconds. Stir again, and taste. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. The sauce should be quite thick.See the image at the left.
Add about 1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise to the sauce. This is how we are cheating the “aise” into the sauce. Mix it in well, and let the sauce sit for a few minutes. It will thicken a bit more.
Poach the eggs
While the sauce cooks, poach two eggs. See full instructions to poach eggs.
Toast the bread
While the eggs cook, toast your choice of bread. I’ve used hamburger buns, and even sturdy bread at times. This time used half a bagel. I cut the bagel in half the other way, and offset the halves to make room for two eggs, as shown in the illustration. (I forgot to take a photo of this step.) I do not butter my toast. Place the bread on the plate.
Cook the bacon
Normally, I cook bacon in a frying pan because it browns better. However, for this use, I simply wrap one piece of bacon in paper towel, place on a plate and cook on high in the microwave for about 1½ – 2 minutes, or until just starting to get crisp.
Put the cooked bacon on the bread. Release the poached eggs on top of the bacon. Pour the sauce over the top, letting any extra sauce run over onto the plate. This is a generous amount of sauce, so you may not want to use all of it. However, since it really is good food (milk and flour), don’t hold back if you like plenty of sauce. Add fruit to the plate if desired.
The first time you make this recipe, it will probably feel a bit clumsy. There is a lot going on at once. However, if you make it a few times, you will find that it really does come together fast once you know what to do when. And while it may not be “proper” Eggs Benedict, it is a delicious and impressive dish, perfect for Sunday brunch, or a company breakfast. Hint: If you are making this for a special meal with company, make the sauce ahead of time, even the day before. Keep it in the fridge. It will only take a minute or two to heat the sauce, and the rest of the meal is very quick.