Eggs Benedict, a la Modernist Cuisine

Eggs Benedict, a la Modernist Cuisine

I think we all know how much I love my sous vide machine. I use it A LOT.  It makes the best short ribs ever. Steaks are so effortless and always perfect.  It even makes a superior burger.  I've started cooking my beets in it, they turn out much better than roasted or steaming. And I've been using it to poach eggs, directly in their shells.  But I wanted to step up, and start doing some of the recipe from the Modernist Cuisine books.  For no particular reason, I decided on the Hollandaise sauce. Maybe because it can go on top of the poached eggs I already know how to make. ;) For the poached eggs, I put the eggs in the sv in their shells, with the sv preheated to 149, the temp recommended in the MCaH for the hollandaise sauce. If I do this again at that temperature, I'll take the eggs out sooner. At 149 for 45 minutes, the yolks were beyond custardy and into the fudgy texture. Also, I didn't take the advice of boiling them quickly for 60 seconds prior to sving to set the white, and I really regret that, because even at this time and temp, the white did not solidify. Lesson learned and note made. For the hollandaise, I made a white wine and shallot reduction, strained it, and blended it with egg yolks. This is when I learned you can't use an immersion blender in a bowl with a small amount of liquid. (I halved the recipe, since I cook only for myself and I can't save hollandaise sauce leftovers. Nor should I attempt eating it all to avoid waste. ;) I put the eggs in a cup, and blended it, then put it in a ziplock bag. I used the water bath method of removing the air from the bag, and left the sauce base in the sv for 30 minutes.

Post water bath: image

I was expecting a less gel-like sauce base, this came out pretty, well, gelatiny! I debated squeezing it out of the bag, but finally ended up cutting the bag open and using a rubber spatula to scrape it out. This is when I remembered my immersion blender came with a handy cup, perfectly sized for blending smaller amounts of stuff. ;)


Then I added the melted butter, and blended to emulsify. I am guessing this is where I went wrong, because it blended, but didn't emulsify into a rich, thick blend:


But I already had plated the toasted english muffin, with seared Canadian bacon, and sliced avocado, with the sv poached egg on top, and so I went for it anyhow.


It's almost as if the broken sauce is mocking me. I normally use Julia Child's method of hollandaise, and had great success the first few times, but the last two times I made it, it broke. I thought the sv would be fool-proof because of the base, but now I am thinking my melted butter is not hot enough, and so it's not properly emulsifing. (An online search suggested the base and butter must be the same temperature for a proper emulsion?) After all the fussing to get the base out of the bag and into a cup, it would have been quite cool. I am going to try this again, but I'll need to rewarm the base up to temperature, and ensure the melted butter is at the same temp. I could, theoretically, melt the butter, and stick the glass measuring cup directly in the sv to keep it at that temp, then do the same with the base cup after I get the base out of the bag. But then all of this seems like so much more work to get the same hollandaise that I can make on the stove top. I took my issue to an online forum where some of the MC people show the rest of us how to do this stuff, and one of them supplied me with a different recipe. I set out again to create sous vide Hollandaise, thinking that I HAD to succeed because I cannot keep eating eggs benedict until I get it right! The new  recipe was perfect, absolutely PERFECT. I followed the directions exactly as written. I measured out all ingredients in grams on a scale. I made a reduction with shallots and white wine vinegar, and mixed it with egg yolks, butter, salt, and water.  I put all the ingredients in a ziplock bag without mixing it up, even though that was incredibly difficult. ;) I'd done the poached eggs first at 62.5C for 45 minutes, then raised the temperature of the bath to 149F for the hollandaise base. I sealed the bag using the water displacement method, and left it for 30 minutes. I kept the poached eggs warm in water after a 60 pass through simmering water. When the base was done, I poured it into a bowl over a pan of hot water to avoid a drop in temperature. I don't think that was terribly necessary, but gave me some peace of mind. ;)

The base, post sv bath:

Then I hit it with an immersion blender. I could tell immediately it was emulsifying perfectly. Ah, the sweet success of victory!

The emulsified base:

The final dish, eggs benedict. Toasted english muffins, canadian bacon slices seared in a pan, sliced avocado, sous vide poached eggs, and the hollandaise. Magical.

The hollandaise is so light, fluffy, and magical. The taste is spot on. And I am thrilled. :)  


Will B.
there is nothing sadder than a broken butter sauce :) glad you figured it out :)
Isn't that the truth! It's such a waste of butter and eggs, for starters. Nevermind the sadness of failure, hahaha.... I LOVE this new sous vide method, it's brilliant.
ambrosia! I have heard that hollandaise sauce is sensitive to the weather, and that an incoming weather front will keep it from emulsifying properly as the air pressure is dropping. I wonder if that's true... Anyway, I'm so glad you were successful. It looks delicious.

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