Monday, January 10, 2011

Failure eggs in bitter sauce

Status update: Cash money millionaire… Still cursed

The only thing I wanted to do on Saturday was buy a chicken.  Got to the deli late: Chickens all gone! We may have electricity again, but the curse powers on.  It powered all the way through Saturday to Sunday morning, when it established its presence in my kitchen, burning my challah toast, thinning out my hollandaise, and generally fucking with my first poached eggs.
Fine. Maybe that was me.  I shouldn’t even be posting about this.  “Come read my cooking blog… I don’t recommend making any of this shit but I thought I’d tell you about it anyway. You want eggs Benedict? Go to brunch. That’s what I should have done.”  
Let’s be more constructive and talk about what I learned:
  1. When poaching eggs, swirl the water a little to help the cloudy messes take shape and keep them from flattening to the bottom of your pan. 
  2. Good idea:  Toasting the last of your challah in already-greased pan used for melting butter.  Bad idea: Forgetting about it.  
  3. Listen to Martha Stewart.  I didn’t—I know, it’s the most blasphemous thing I could write. But it is true.  She wanted the butter for my hollandaise bubbly and hot.  It wasn’t.  Perhaps this caused the thinning? Like I care. 
It was shambles.  Tasty, yes, but shambles still.  A poorly executed egg massacre.  

The upside: I made these mistakes so you don’t have to.  Kind of like Jesus, dying for your sins.  Except not so sacrilegious.

2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon warm water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Combine yolks, water, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk.  Melt the butter in a pan and when it is bubbling (but not browning) don’t put it to the side and go check your e-mail. Instead, pour the butter while hot into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously until the sauce is thick and tasty.  


  1. On the contrary, Hanna, I think your poached eggs look just the way they're supposed to.

    And I think Martha neglected to mention something. I Googled around a bit and found this useful (and also dated) video:

    Had you let the eggs sit in their prep bowls in the boiling water for a second, letting them "set up," maybe the whites wouldn't have gotten away from you. Martha doesn't say anything about that. According to her, you're just supposed to pour the eggs into the pan (and hope for the best?).

    But it was tasty, so who cares what it looked like in the kitchen?

  2. Chicken, should have come here for dinner. Chicken Normandy, at your service!

  3. Stobol: Thank you. I guess just because I've seen it on topchef a thousand times doesn't mean I'll be able to do it perfectly on the first go. I will try prep-bowl simmering next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time. I'll let you know how the hollandaise gelée turns out.

  4. hahahha I'm glad you shared this. It reminds me of Laurie Colwin. Honest! And hilarious.

  5. Beany Malone (of the classic 1973 "Beany Malone Cookbook") also encountered streamers.

    Buying (and using) an egg poacher is one way of keeping the circle unbroken but Beany was on a tight budget and so tried "a more unorthodox but successful method." I continue to quote: "She heated butter in a small pan, and milk in another. She broke the egg into the hot butter, and gave it only time enough for the white to firm around the edges before pouring the hot milk gently over it. She covered the pan and let the egg poach in the milk over low heat until the yolk was barely firm. She lifted the egg out with a slotted pancake burner.... Much later, someone told Beany that a tablespoon of vinegar added to the water an egg was poached in would keep the white from forming streamers. But she still stuck to her sure-fire [if cholesterol laden--MRY] method."