Eggs Arlington

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

We used to serve hundreds of eggs Benedict every week at Le Caprice, especially at Sunday brunch. Le Caprice was the epicentre of the Sunday brunch. It used to go on for hours – into dinner time – and Sunday was usually the day that the chefs, including myself, were suffering from the night before. This classic was subsequently renamed after the cul-de-sac in which Le Caprice resides.

For the Hollandaise sauce

1tbsp white wine vinegar
2tbsp water
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
A few sprigs tarragon
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
2 large egg yolks
250g unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

To serve

4 slices (100-120g) smoked salmon
2 English muffins, halved
4 large eggs

First, make the Hollandaise sauce. Put the vinegar, water, shallots, herbs and peppercorns in a saucepan and reduce the liquid to about a dessertspoonful. Strain it and put to one aside.

Melt the butter and simmer it gently for 5-10 minutes until it looks like it is separating. Remove it from the heat, leave it to cool a little, then pour off the pure butter where it has separated from the whey and discard the whey. This helps to keep the sauce thick. Put the egg yolks into a small stainless-steel bowl with half of the vinegar reduction and whisk over a pan of gently simmering water until the mixture begins to thicken and become frothy. Slowly trickle in the butter, whisking continuously – an electric hand whisk will help. If the butter is added too quickly, the sauce will separate.

When you have added two-thirds of the butter, taste the sauce and add a little more or all of the reduction and season with salt and pepper. Then add the rest of the butter. The sauce should not be too vinegary but the vinegar should just cut the oiliness of the butter. Season again with salt and pepper if necessary, lay some clingfilm directly on the sauce to stop it forming a skin and leave in a warm, not hot, place until needed. The sauce can be reheated briefly over a bowl of hot water and lightly whisked again, but try to avoid doing this if possible.

To serve, lightly toast the muffins and soft-poach the eggs. Place a slice of smoked salmon on the muffin with the poached egg on top and coat it with a couple of generous spoonfuls of the Hollandaise sauce. Add caviar as an optional extra.