Introduction: Soft Duck Eggs Benedict With Roasted Poblano Hollandaise and Wild Greens
Here's a riff on a traditional Eggs Benedict. It’s a great recipe for a brunch-at-home vibe. Here I’ve made a healthier version of the traditional recipe and added some more layers of flavor using poblanos and duck eggs.
This recipe began when a farmer friend gifted me some poblano peppers. Most people who see poblanos in the store, see green poblanos. The red poblano is just left to ripen more on the plant and is generally a bit hotter and deeper in its earthy but not so spicy chile flavor. Here it brings great color to the plate. The variety I used is called "Magnifico" which can be found for purchase in seed catalogs.
I got the duck eggs from a local couple than raises geese and ducks as a part of their gardening business. Duck eggs are larger than an average chicken egg and have a higher fat content, making for an even creamier soft egg. You can find duck eggs from local farmers, though it may take some asking around. If you don't have access to duck eggs you can use chicken eggs.
This recipe is rather involved if it were to all be done in one day. The nice thing is you don’t necessarily have to do it all at once and the individual steps are fairly simple, not requiring too much time or many ingredients. As explained below, the steps can be done at different times. Say one day you make the butter. Then the next day you roast some peppers and whip up the compound butter. Then on the third day you could wake up, make some hollandaise with that homemade compound butter you have in the fridge, make some eggs, and do the final assembly steps. Having unique ingredients prepared and on hand in your kitchen is always a nice thing. Of course, you could also do it all at once!
Important to note: I'm laying out a general recipe concept, the ingredients and process. I'm including lots of detail for instruction, but not necessarily specific amounts. You decide amounts based on the number of people you are feeding. The ingredients listed below make about 8 oz of butter. You can use that to make about 2-3 times the recipe for hollandaise provided, which would be enough for 6-9 or 9-12 people respectively. Use that to decide how many eggs, greens, garlic, and bread you will need for the full recipe. Though you don't have to use all the butter for hollandaise. You can just eat the rest on anything, example: slather it on some fresh local corn.
Another note on ingredients: I used sliced organic sprouted grain sourdough-fermented bread from a local bakery. Sourdough-fermented bread made with organic flours are what I recommend. If you haven't searched already, I suggest looking around to find a local bakery that makes high-quality bread using traditional techniques. It makes all the difference.
Ingredients and special equipment:
2 - 3 organic poblano peppers (# depends on how flavorful you want the butter)
1 Pint Organic, Pastured-Dairy Heavy Cream
Organic sourdough-fermented bread (my recommendation)*
Greens for saute
Minced organic garlic
Organic Free-Range Duck Eggs (or chicken eggs)**
Organic lemon(s), for lemon juice
Organic Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh chives for garnish
Cheesecloth (optional, you could also use paper towel)
Get all the ingredients together. Make sure you’ve got the equipment you need on hand.
Step 1: Harvest the Greens
You can use whatever greens you want for this recipe, what you have available is good. You can purchase some organic salad or saute greens from a local grocery store or farmer’s market. Or if you have a garden yourself, you know what to do.
For this recipe, I used a blend of organic greens bought at the store and some edible common garden weeds (sometimes called “weeds of cultivation”, though I'll just call them "wild greens" from here on out).
My blend: baby spinach, baby chard, arugula, chickweed, lamb’s quarter
Pictured above: Chickweed (left), Lamb's Quarter (top right), Herb garden (bottom right)
[Note: There are lots of great tasting wild greens out there. Once you get an eye for this sort of thing, you'll see them everywhere. If you'd like to harvest some wild greens there are some great websites and books out there that I suggest you consult. **There are poison or irritating plants out there so it is very important that you can positively identify what you are harvesting.** The great thing is that some of the easiest to identify weeds of cultivation are also the tastiest, example: lamb’s quarter.]
At this time you can also harvest some garnish. I included a photo of my little herb garden where I harvested chives.
Step 2: Make Butter, It's Easier Than You Think
Pour the pint of cream in the food processor, secure the lid, and give it a whirl.
After about 2 minutes, it will reach the consistency of whipped cream (for future reference..) After another minute you will see it begin to separate. After about 5 minutes in total, you will see it separate into liquid (buttermilk) and solid (butter). Stop the processor. Pour out that liquid. (Save it for later, maybe biscuits or pancakes? Store it in the fridge.) Add a pinch of salt to the remaining solids, blend to incorporate.
Now, using a spatula, scoop out the butter solids and place the blob on a cheesecloth. Use the cheesecloth to ring out a bit more liquid. (You can skip this step if you feel your butter is dry enough)
[Note: Ok there you go homemade butter is incredibly easy. You can save this in the fridge or freezer for later. Or move directly on to the next step.]
Step 3: Roast the Peppers
You can roast the peppers on a grill, in an oven, or right on the fire of a gas burner.
I received already roasted peppers from my farmer friend. She just grabbed them out of the freezer, saved in freezer-proof ziplock bag from the previous season. So, for this instructable, I used a sweet pepper to show how to roast on a gas stove at home.
Fire the peppers and give them some turns using metal thongs to keep your hands safe. Let them char on all sides. Once they’re good and charred all over, while still hot, transfer them into a paper bag or glass container with a lid. If using a paper bag, fold it closed tight. If using a glass container, cover with lid. The idea is to trap in the moisture, which will “sweat the peppers” and make it easy to remove their skins. Some people do this with a plastic bag, but I’m not a fan of heating plastics. Here I used a bowl and a plate as a lid, easy.
Let the peps sit for 10-15 minutes. Once they've sweated and are now cool to the touch, transfer them onto a cutting board. Use the blade of a knife to scrape off the skins. Remove as much skin as possible and discard skins. Now core, deseed, and rough chop the skin-less peppers.
[Note: You can do this step ahead of time. Once you’ve prepped the peppers to this point (roasted, skinned, and deseeded) they’ll keep in the fridge for a bit. Or you can save them in freezer-safe plastic bags and throw them in the freezer, as mentioned above. Having prepped roasted peppers on hand can be useful for many recipes.]
Step 4: Make a Compound Butter
"Compound butter" is chef talk for whipping tasty flavors into butter. Here we’re making roasted poblano compound butter.
You can start with a pepper or two, blend, and judge it for the flavor and consistency you'd like. Add more peppers for brighter color and more intense flavor. You can also adjust the salt at this point.
It’s very simple. Throw the prepped roasted poblanos in the mixer with the butter you made, a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil, and blend for 2-3 minutes. Occasionally pausing to scrape down the sides and continue blending until you have a nice even consistency with a smooth orange color. That’s all it takes.
Transfer the compound butter to a container, to set aside while preparing the next step.
[Again, this can be frozen to have on hand for later. It'll keep good for months.]
Step 5: Make the Hollandaise Sauce
Making hollandaise sauce is relatively simple. The trick is pouring the melted butter into the eggs slowly and continuously whisking the eggs while they're over heat so that they don't cook improperly.
Another key to success is organization. Have everything in order before you start so that once things start getting hot, you're ready.
The basic recipe I used here is:
4 egg yolks (eggs from organic-fed, free range chickens)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed from organic lemons)
1/2 cup of our roasted poblano compound butter, melted
pinch of salt
2 dash of paprika
2 dash of cayenne
Yield: about 3/4 cup, enough for 3-4 people depending on how much hollandaise you like to dish up.
Scale up this recipe depending on how many people are eating. Example: to double the recipe, multiply everything by 2., etc.
Step 1: Get your setup all sorted. You'll need a metal or glass bowl (not plastic) to whisk the egg yolks in, that can then be put on top of a small saucepan filled with 1" of simmering hot water to finish the sauce. (Not a plastic bowl because it needs to be safe to have over heat)
Step 2: Separate yolks from whites. I like having multiple bowls to keep everything neat and clean. Using your hands is the easiest way to gently separate the yolks without breaking them. Use your fingers to gently pinch off the whites. [Tip: Have extra eggs on hand in case you mess up] Save the whites for something else. If you have a lot leftover, a quick google search of "what to do with leftover whites" produces inspiring results.
Step 3: Put a small saucepan filled with 1" water over heat, bring to gentle boil.
Step 3: Whisk together yolks and lemon juice, until it gets thicker and about doubles its volume.
Step 4: Transfer the mixing boil with whipped yolks over the saucepan with boiling water into a make-shift double boiler. Continue whisking yolks while slowly adding the melted butter. Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. You can do this to your desired level of thickness. I like it to be bit puffy but still runny.
Step 5: Kill the heat. Remove the mixing bowl and add salt, paprika, and cayenne to the sauce. Whisk to incorporate.
Step 6: Soft Eggs
A soft boiled egg is just like a hard boiled egg but with a runny yolk. The goal is a cooked white with a runny yolk. The main difference in cooking is time. A shorter cook time, and it's fairly precise. For chicken eggs, I like 6 minutes and for a duck egg: 7 minutes.
If you haven't made soft boiled eggs (also just called “soft eggs”) before, I suggest practicing with chicken eggs rather than having your first go be on duck eggs. For additional references, there are some great guides online that you can consult – Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen are some good go-to's putting out great visual guides with food science explained along the way. So practice makes perfect and the good thing is that the process is simple and relatively quick so you can try a few rounds to get the hang of it.
In the photos above I included one showing different egg sizes, to get a sense of it. And if you don't have access to duck eggs, no worries! This recipe will taste amazing with regular organic chicken eggs for sure.
Step 1: Get your setup prepared. I made a diagram showing it all arranged. You should have a sieve or small chinoise (if you’re making a large batch of soft eggs), a saucepan big enough that the sieve fits into it, an ice bath, somewhere to put the hot sieve afterward, and your eggs at the ready. Make an ice bath by almost filling a mixing bowl with ice then filling the rest with water. You will use the ice bath to stop their cooking so that they don’t continue cooking by their residual heat (like a piece of meat off the grill).
Before things get hot, test how many eggs will fit underwater in the sieve. Depending on how many you’re cooking, you can do batches.
Step 2: Bring the saucepan full of water to a rolling boil.
Step 3: Set timer for 6 minutes for chicken eggs, 7 minutes for duck eggs. (Duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs and therefore need a bit more time.)(Some adjustments may be needed depending on the size of your eggs, as mentioned, or other factors like altitude).
Step 4: Place eggs in the sieve. Place sieve in boiling water. Press start on your timer.
Step 5: Be attentive. This isn’t the time to multi-task unless you’re a soft egg pro.
Step 6: When the timer goes off, immediately pull out the sieve and pour the eggs into the ice bath.
Step 7: Let eggs sit for a few minutes in the ice bath. This will make peeling easier.
[Note: Once you've mastered the technique of soft eggs, you can use them for all sorts of fun things. Above is a photo from a time I made soft quail eggs with mint sauce (not pictured). And of course, you can make a more authentic home ramen dish with this technique. Even just for a snack, a soft egg cut in half with a little sriracha and minced cilantro, or togarashi, tamari, and chives are great bites.]
Step 7: Multi-tasking and Final Assembly!
This is a multistep part, since you will want the various components to be relatively warm when you tuck into it.
First, peel the soft eggs. Be gentle. The trick is to gently tap them on the countertop to crack their shells at the bottom of the egg, where the air bubble usually collects. (See in the photo where the egg is flat, that's where the air bubble was) Then dunk them into a bowl of water (lukewarm, not the ice bath because you don't want them cold) and peel them underwater. The water helps loosen the shells. Once you've peeled what you need, you can hold them in the water while you complete the last steps.
Get some bread toasting. While that's going, saute your greens.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot throw in some minced garlic (to taste) and cook for 30 seconds or just until it becomes fragrant (start smelling it). Then add your greens and saute for a minute or just until wilted.
Turn off the heat. Grab that toast out and slap some of the remaining poblano butter on it. It's time for the final assembly.
Final plate assembly:
A little dab of hollandaise on the plate (this acts like glue for the toast so it doesn't slip around on the plate), then lay down your toast, sauteed greens across toast (letting them spill over the sides is a nice look). Then neatly place a soft duck egg on top of the bed of greens. You can leave them whole or cut them in half which will let the runny yolks spill over the greens, up to you. If you leave them whole when plating then whoever is eating gets the pleasure of cutting them open and letting the yolks spill, which is a fun show. In the photos above I have cut them open to show their full glory.
Finally, pour or spoon some hollandaise over the whole thing.
Garnish with a shake of paprika, sprinkle of chives, and a remaining leaf of chickweed or other green. In the photos I have a sauteed chive bud for garnish.
Congratulations, you've won breakfast.
Runner Up in the
Organic Cooking Challenge