Eggs Benedict may seem like a feat of timing best left to the pros. But you can — and totally should — make this brunch classic at home.
This ingenious prep-ahead approach removes any short-order stress, and the simple hollandaise will bring down the house (yes, your house).
8 large eggs, plus 3 large yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick (½ cup) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, and more for serving
8 slices Canadian bacon
4 English muffins, split
Watercress and cayenne pepper, for serving
Whir the sauce: Put egg yolks (see note), lemon juice and ¾ teaspoon salt in a blender; blend until combined. Melt 1 stick butter in a saucepan. With blender running, slowly pour butter through opening in lid in a thin stream until sauce is thick, about 1 minute.
Brown the bacon: Heat remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium. In two batches, add Canadian bacon and cook until crisp, flipping once, about 4 minutes a side.
Cook the eggs: Crack 8 eggs into a bowl. Fill a big pot with 3 inches water; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. When water is barely simmering, tilt pot slightly to create a ripple; slip eggs in all at once. After 30 seconds, loosen them from bottom with a rubber spatula. Cook until whites are set and yolks are still soft, 3 to 3½ minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon, or see “the prep-ahead plan” next.
Toast and assemble: Preheat broiler. Arrange English-muffin halves, cut-sides up, on a baking sheet; broil until golden, 1 minute. Spread on butter and top with bacon. Remove each egg from plate and blot on a folded paper towel; place atop bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise over eggs, and garnish with watercress and a dash of cayenne.
NOTE: Although recipes sometimes call for eggs which will remain uncooked, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends diners — especially children, seniors, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems — avoid eating raw eggs. Pasteurized egg products may be used as a safer substitute.
The prep-ahead plan
You can poach the eggs up to a day morninin advance, and then you won’t have to worry about cracking under pressure when it’s showtime. Transfer the cooked eggs to an ice-water bath so the yolks stay runny. Set aside at room temperature for up to an hour, or cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Reheat by briefly placing the eggs in a bowl of hot water from the tap, just until warmed through.
Canadian bacon and hollandaise are what make an eggs Benedict. But there is a world of variations — from eggs California to Chesapeake to Florentine — to enjoy come brunch time.
1. California: Subs sliced avocado for the bacon.
2. Chesapeake: A crabcake sits in for a muffin.
3. Florentine: Swap in sautéed spinach.
4. Omar: Seared tenderloin makes an appearance.
5. Royale: Smoked salmon with salmon caviar on top swims in.
6. Huevos Benedictos: Use chorizo sausage.
Martha’s favorite riffs
Caramelized tomato: Season ½-inch-thick tomato slices with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a nonstick skillet and cook tomatoes with a few thyme sprigs, flipping once, about 4 minutes a side.
Cooked greens: Try chopped steamed or sautéed kale or Swiss chard.
Crab salad: Combine 8 ounces chopped crabmeat, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Smoked fish: Layer on slices of salmon or pieces of flaked trout.
Replace the English muffins with roasted portobello mushrooms: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush both sides of 8 medium mushrooms, stems removed, with olive oil. Arrange, gill-sides down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping once, until tender, about 25 minutes.