Eggs Benedict is my hypothetical death row meal (with a hot fudge brownie sundae). Unlike grilled cheese or pizza, Eggs Benedict is only worth eating when made well. The best I’ve had was from the Art Cliff Diner on Martha’s Vineyard – the Hollandaise had enough acid to balance the rich clarified butter, and the eggs were cooked through just to the end of the white-yolk border.
I’ve eaten too many disappointing versions – with chalky yolks and foamy sauces – that I have stopped ordering Eggs Benedict when I go out. When the cravings come, I loosen my wrists, break out the whisk and set the water to simmer.
This time I used Irish Bacon, which is smoked pork loin, a nice alternative to canadian bacon. I remembered to add a few tablespoons of vinegar and salt to the water as I learned to do in culinary school. They say this encourages the eggs to coagulate more quickly. I reduced vinegar with crushed black peppercorns and minced shallot for the hollandaise base, and I added lemon juice and a bit of cayenne at the end, bookmarking the emulsified butter sauce with brightness and acidity.
If I ever find myself coming to the end of my stay in a 6 x 9 Florida cell, it looks like I’ll be cooking my own last meal. Someone else can handle the sundae.