Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ingredient 8 – Duck Eggs

Asking me to name my favorite food is silly.  I can't pick.  And if you do wrangle a decision out of me, don't expect my answer to be the same two weeks later.  However, if you ask me what my favorite meal is, the answer is brunch.  Good Lord, do I love brunch.  Savory and sweet in one meal and champagne cocktails, yes please.  Brunch is not just a meal, it provides a small dose of Zen to my week.  It is a vacation from my weekday breakfasts, typically inhaled in my cubicle or en route to the metro.

Ok, now that you know how much I love brunch, it should come as no surprise that I made Eggs Benedict this week, a brunch staple if there ever was one.  My benedict was no ordinary benedict, it featured the luxe ingredient of duck eggs.  I was considering preparing an ostrich egg, but one ostrich egg is equal to 2 dozen (24) chicken eggs.  Be warned future house guests, there may be ostrich egg in your future.

Duck eggs can be substituted for chicken eggs in nearly any recipe.  However, there are a few things to keep in mind.  Duck eggs are larger and have higher fat content than chicken eggs.  The yoke to white ratio is higher, good if you love yokes.  Duck eggs also have thicker shells which increase their shelf life.  
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Duck Eggs Benedict
Serves 2 to 3
2 English muffins
4 slices Canadian bacon 
4 eggs for poaching
1/2 tbp white wine vinegar

 Hollandaise Sauce  - Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
1/2 cup of butter (room temperature)
3 egg yokes
1 tbp lemon juice
1 tbp water
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Begin by making the Hollandaise sauce.  Separate and beat three egg yokes.  Place water, lemon juice, and yokes in the top pot of a double boiler.  Fill the bottom of the boiler 1/3 full with water and place on low heat.  Note: I don't have a double boiler so I improvise by placing a Pyrex mixing bowl on top of a saucepan.  Mix ingredients in top half of boiler and place on top of lower half of boiler. 

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Slice butter into 4 even pieces.  Place one piece of butter in top half of boiler and gently mix ingredients until the butter has dissolved.  Once dissolved, add a second piece of butter, repeat process until all butter has been incorporated.  When all the butter has been incorporated, stir mixture for an additional 3 minutes.  During this time, the sauce will start to thicken.  Once the 3 minutes are up, remove the top half of the boiler from heat and stir in white pepper and salt.

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I was worried that the Hollandaise sauce would be tricky, but the instructions provided in the cookbook were spot on.  The recipe suggested adding 1 or 2 tablespoon of warm water if your sauce comes out too thick.  The cookbook didn't make any mention of the mini panic attack you might suffer when adding a entire stick of butter to the sauce.  During my mental freak out, I pondered the hours of exercise it would take to burn off a stick of butter.  I am not really sure how long it would take, but trust me, don't go down that path.  Hollandaise sauce is ridiculously delicious, period.    

Once the Hollandaise sauce is complete, start poaching your eggs.  Fill a large skillet with water and place on medium low heat.  While the water is heating, crack eggs into individual small dishes.  Once the water is just below a light simmer, add the white wine vinegar.  Keep the water at this temperature, do not let the water come to a simmer or boil. 

My cookbook instructed me to gently pour the egg into the pan by placing the lip of the egg container as close to the water as possible.  One food blog suggested stirring the water to create whirlpool and pouring the egg into the whirlpool.  I tried both of these techniques with less than picture perfect results.  I had the most success when I used a cookie cutter as a mold for pouring the egg.  Regardless of pouring technique, cook the eggs for 3 to 4 minutes.
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While your eggs are cooking, toast your English muffins and warm the Canadian bacon in a skillet, 2 to 3 minutes on each side (low heat).

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To assemble, place piece of Canadian bacon on an English muffin half, top with poached egg and desired amount of Hollandaise sauce.  I served steamed asparagus with my Eggs Benedict.

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As for taste, the duck eggs didn't disappoint.  They were very rich and flavorful.  Not surprisingly, the Hollandaise sauce was also very rich.  I thought the sauce was good, but could have been improved with a bit more salt and some additional spices.  Together, the eggs and Hollandaise were almost overwhelming.  Overall grade: B+. 

FYI, I have one duck egg left and am looking forward to cooking it this weekend.  I will let you know how it comes out.

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