Saturday, September 1, 2007

Southwestern Eggs Benedict

Back in May my friend Cherrie and I attended Ramekins Cooking School in Sonoma. We stayed at the B&B which is part of the school, and attended two cooking classes, the 2nd one a brunch class. Considering the menu, which included peaches and cream mimosas, scrambled eggs with pancetta and chive biscuits, blueberry and sour cream pancakes, smoked salmon and spinach salad, lemon biscuits AND this eggs benedict dish, I shudder to think how many calories and grams of fat we consumed that morning. I was positively astounded when my MasterCook software told me just now how many calories are in this benedict version. Oh -- ---! It can't be possible. (Can it?) So I'm not going to tell you what it said. I'll just say that this was wonderful. And if I make this sometime I'll be certain to prepare some very low calorie sides, maybe just fruit.

I've always enjoyed Eggs Benedict. Usually the traditional type with ham or Canadian bacon, English muffins, poached eggs, of course, and Hollandaise on top. But this version is made with chorizo, molded into patties. It's also made on a cornbread round (the size of English muffins), topped with a simple poached egg, and then topped with a delicious zesty chipotle Hollandaise sauce.

Usually I'm successful with Hollandaise - made in the blender. But I learned a bit about making it at this class, even though I've made it dozens of times. If the mixture gets too hot (using boiling butter, for instance) it will cause the Hollandaise to break - it separates, most likely never to be reunited in a homogeneous sauce. Also, if you keep it warm for awhile before serving, if it gets too hot there, it may also separate.

And maybe the most significant skill I learned at this class was how to make perfectly cooked poached eggs. These are techniques that must be a regular part of a chef's skills, but I'd never heard them before.

  • First, you BUTTER the skillet you'll cook them in. You'd think why bother - you boil water in it - why would buttering it make any difference. But it does. Who knew?
  • Then, to get the egg into the simmering water without it spreading all over everywhere. . . such a simple thing - you crack the egg into a small bowl (like a half a cup size) and gently lower the BOWL into the simmering water - about 1/3 of the bowl under water - and allow the water to swirl around the back of the egg, while the egg still remains IN the bowl to kind of surround it. It begins to cook. Fifteen seconds later you gently tip the egg out of the bowl into the water.
  • The third trick was to undercook the poached egg just a little bit and remove it to a bowl of cool water. It can sit there for up to an hour, while you finish the rest of the breakfast or brunch. Then, when everything is nearly ready, you spoon the eggs back into the simmering water to just reheat them, then place them on the finished plate. How easy it was.
Southwestern Eggs Benedict
Recipe: Ramekins Cooking School, Sonoma
Servings Size : 6
1 pound chorizo -- bulk, or removed from casings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cilantro -- finely minced
12 whole eggs -- poached
2 teaspoons butter
4 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar

A bowl of cold water
2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter -- melted and cooled
6 whole egg yolks
2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chipotle chile canned in adobo

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces unsalted butter
1. CHORIZO: Form the bulk sausage into 12 flat, round patties. Heat 1 T. of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Fry half of the sausage patties for about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and repeat with the remaining oil and sausage patties. Do not overcook.
2. CORNBREAD: Preheat oven to 425 Grease a sheet pan generously. In a bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and the salt. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and the butter. Add the buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir the batter until JUST combined.
3. Heat the greased pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until it is very hot, add the batter, spreading evenly and bake the cornbread in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is pale golden and the sides just begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. Let the cornbread cool for 5 minutes, turn it out onto a rack and let it cool completely. Using a round 2 1/2-inch to 3-inch cutter, cut the cornbread into 12 rounds.
4. CHIPOTLE HOLLANDAISE: Set a small saucepan with water on the stove and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to lowest possible setting. In another pan warm the butter until melted and skim off any foam on top. Combine the yolks, 2 T. warm water, lime juice, chipotle, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper in blender. With the blender running, drizzle in the warm butter VERY slowly until it is all incorporated. Transfer to a stainless bowl and place on top of the saucepan filled with warm water to keep it warm. Do NOT let the sauce get too hot, as it can cause the sauce to "break."
5. POACHED EGGS: Lightly butter the bottom of a deep skillet. Fill the pan with 4 cups of water and bring to a gentle simmer over medium high heat. Add 2 T. white vinegar to the water and a large pinch of salt. Crack each egg into a small bowl. Gently lower one edge of the bowl - about 1/3 of the bowl itself - into the simmering water and allow the water to swirl around the entire egg for about 10-15 seconds, then gently pour the egg out into the water completely. Repeat with remaining eggs. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the water at a very low simmer. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of COLD water. Reheat them in a pan of gently simmering water to gently re-warm them before serving.
6. ASSEMBLY: Use 2 cornbread rounds for each serving. Top each piece with a sausage patty, a poached egg and then cover with chipotle hollandaise sauce. Garnish with some finely chopped cilantro.

To view a printable recipe, click on title at top. (photo from

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