I do love eggs Benedict. Hot fluffy muffins are important, but really good wafer-thin smoked ham is essential. For fun, I’ve given you a simple method for creating a doubleyolker egg, which also helps you achieve the perfect shape. There’s more hollandaise here than you need, but the reality is it’s really hard to make a smaller batch because you’re emulsifying the butter. However, you can refrigerate what you don’t need and use it almost like a mayonnaise over the next few days. Feel free to swap out the ham for beautiful smoked salmon, or even a slow-roasted portobello mushroom, if you prefer.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Trim and finely chop the spring onions and put them into a large frying pan on a medium-low heat with a little drizzle of oil. Add the spinach with a grating of nutmeg and a good pinch of sea salt and pepper. Cook down until dark and delicious, and any excess water has cooked away, then add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste, and keep warm.
To make the hollandaise, melt the butter in a small pan. Put the egg yolks into a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and whisk with a tablespoon of lemon juice and the mustard. Whisking constantly, very slowly (otherwise it will split) pour the melted butter into the egg mixture, until well combined, adding a splash of water to loosen, if needed. Whisk in a splash of vinegar and season to perfection. Turn the heat off and keep warm over the pan of water, stirring occasionally, and loosening with an extra splash of water if needed (or see tip).
Warm the muffins in the oven. Meanwhile, simply press an oiled sheet of good-quality clingfilm into an oiled teacup, then crack 2 eggs into it to cheat a double-yolker. Bring the sides up, ease out any air, twist together and tie a tight knot to pouch the egg into a parcel – it’s very easy. Repeat with the remaining eggs (a drizzle of truffle oil, a shake of Tabasco or a few fresh soft herbs can be added to your parcels for extra flavour).
Poach the parcels in a pan of gently simmering water for 8½ minutes. To check they’re done, lift one out with a slotted spoon and gently squeeze – use your instincts.
Halve the warm muffins, then divide over the spinach and waves of delicate ham. Unwrap the poached double-yolker eggs and balance on top, spoon a tablespoon of hollandaise over each one, then bust the eggs open and enjoy.
My top chef’s tip here is that the best way to keep hollandaise in a stable, warm condition is to put it into a preheated Thermos flask. Then, if you’ve got mates coming round, you can just knock out Benedicts in batches, pouring the sauce straight from the flask – it makes life a lot easier and prevents it from splitting.