Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Broken Dreams

There was a kitchen FAIL on Sunday. Hollandaise Sauce and Eggs Benedict. Sad...

First the sauce. It's awesome. Three eggs yolks, dribble of lemon juice, water, salt, pepper and TWO STICKS OF BUTTER! Ha ha!!! It's a super easy sauce to make. These eggs came directly from the farm. What a glorious color!

We also got our asparagus directly from the farm as well. Set in the steamer and ready to go.

I tried something different with poaching the eggs. I lined small dishes with plastic wrap, gave it a light spritz of non-stick cooking spray, gathered the sides together and tied them off. Egg pouches. No more floaty poached eggs.

The final sauce, all perfect and smooth, buttery and tangy.

Eggs Benedict with steamed asparagus.

Where's the FAIL?

In a matter of seconds from when I put together the above plate and when I moved to the next one...

1) The asparagus was over-cooked and mushy. There was no saving it. It was vibrant green and tender to dull, brownish-green and mushy. No texture at all. So what went wrong. Too long on the steamer. I was juggling too many things at once and should have pulled the asparagus a minute sooner, but I thought I could move faster.

2) The eggs. This technique worked well. Really it did. The problem was timing again. I cooked them low and slow. Too slow. Then at the end, in order to speed things up, I brought the temperature up. Which finished the eggs and again, in a matter of seconds, they went from tender whites and runny yolks to almost a chewy white and grainy, hard-cooked yolk. Blah.

3) The sauce. My mistake here was leaving the finished sauce over the lowest heat I could get on my stove. Once the sauce was done, that was still too much heat and the sauce broke. It went from velvety smooth to curdled and nasty. I tried for several minutes to fix the sauce. Add a little more butter, a dribble of water, etc. heat, no heat.

After I finally gave up and cried on my over-poached eggs, I dug into my Julia Child library to see what I should have done.

1) I can't fix the over-cooked asparagus or over-poached eggs. If you are concerned, start over.

2) For the sauce, it can be salvaged. Remove a small bit of the sauce and pour into a bowl. Add a dribble of lemon juice and whisk. Add a dribble of melted butter, bit by bit, while whisking until the sauce starts to come together. Start spooning the broken sauce, bit by bit, whisking the whole time. Eventually, the sauce will come back together. You want the sauce to be warm, about body temperature warm. Not hot. That's what broke the sauce in the first place. So a little patience and extra butter and lemon juice will get you back to where you need to be...


DancerInDC said...

This was really a great tragedy, as the chef gave me the good plate and tried to eat the ruined plate himself. The good plate, it was delicious.

Kris Coronado said...

I love Eggs Benedict but have always been a lil afraid to try. Now you're inspiring me to give it a go. Plastic baggies and all!

ScottE. said...

@Kris. Give it a go! The sauce is easy and really delicious. If you try the eggs in the plastic, it's saran wrap/plastic wrap. i'm not sure a plastic baggie will work...I think the plastics are different...so that's my only note of caution.

mia said...

Gotta love the temperament of Hollandaise. We make this a lot for school. You can always count on the chefs to mix it in to our practical exams. That and mayonnaise -- I think they just get a kick out of watching us whisk until our arms are about to fall off! Nice looking sauce! :)

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