Because it’s April which brings Easter and Eggs and Spring, I thought I would make the April Recipe of the Month Eggs Benedict Carolina Style. But as I started to look at the recipe I realized that the first thing I needed to do was to make sure everyone felt comfortable with the Poached Egg. I say that because for a long time I stayed away from this bed & breakfast classic at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, mostly because of the difficulties (I thought) of poaching a number of eggs at once.
Two things happened to change that. The first was a wonderful article on Serious Eats by Kenji with a great method for poaching eggs which works close to perfectly. And the second was the discovery that I could poach eggs a day or more in advance and then quickly heat them up just before serving. Suddenly Eggs Benedict went from scary to possible.
So here’s the trick. As you obviously know, eggs are made up of two parts: the yolk and the white. As eggs get older the white (albumen) starts to break down. This is great if you
want to make meringues as it makes them whip faster and higher but not so good for poaching eggs as they will form long streamers and part from the yolk in the water. This is why everyone always says to use the freshest possible eggs when poaching them. Again, great if you live near a farm or market where you can get super fresh eggs but most of us buy our eggs from supermarkets. Recent articles alarmingly claim that supermarket eggs may be as much as 45 days old before you buy them. While I think that is a rare case, there is no question that they are not as fresh as they could be and then there’s the time they have spent sitting in your fridge to consider as well. Kenji suggests that you break the egg into a small sieve and let it drain for a minute or two before poaching it. This has the effect of removing the wispy bits of
the white so that your egg will hold together in the water.
Now you are ready to poach the eggs. I usually do four at a time. Heat a large pot of water to just below a boil. Place the eggs in the water and poach gently (just at a lower simmer) for three and a half minutes if you are doing this in advance, four to five minutes if you intend to eat it right away. If you are making them in advance remove them from the water and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and store in the refrigerator. The next day, heat a large pot of water once again to a low simmer. Place the eggs in the simmering water for one and a half minutes. This will produce a slightly runny yolk. If you like your eggs better done cook them a minute or two longer. It’s that easy.
So now we are ready to get to Carolina Style Eggs Benedict: poached eggs served on goat cheese grit cakes with roasted red peppers and onions and Hollandaise sauce. I’m sorry to say that this recipe is not included in my cookbook, Our Family Table: Recipes & Lessons from a Life Abroad, so you will have to keep an eye out for my next blog coming up in a day or two!