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Little Big Lunch Transcript


SCENE 1
The Kitchen

GUEST: Guy Beringer

    [AB is at the dining table, reading "Forgotten Food Folklore"] You know, the history of food is fat with names we all know: Clarence Birdseye, Milton Hershey, Doctor Salisbury. But for each of the famous, a thousand unsung heroes languish in relative obscurity. Consider for instance, Guy Beringer, who in 1895, wrote for a curious little English magazine called "Hunter's Weekly."

AB: Now, Mr. Beringer, as an expert, would you mind describing to us the beginning of an average hunting day?
GB: Well, when going for birds, say pheasant, it is customary for the shooting party to depart quite early—predawn, in many casesand far too early for a proper breakfast. So, the tradition is to pack along a few morsels: some bread, cheese, charcuterie, perhaps.
AB: Little, uh, little cognac, maybe?
GB: To keep out the chill and steady the nerves.
AB: Steady the nerves. Got it. So then it's off to blast the peasants ... uh, sorry, pheasants. Pheasants.
GB: Quite. Now, when the ammunition has expired, say around 11:00 ...
AB: Oh, so early?
GB: ... the party will return and tuck into a proper meal, complete with tea, crumpets, marmalade, kippers, and the like.
AB: Kippers and the like.

    Now, this was the world that Beringer was writing for, and about, when he penned this provocative plea ...

AB: In your own words, Sir.
GB: "Instead of England's early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around Noon, beginning with tea or coffee? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday night carousers.

    The essay was titled, "Brunch, A Plea," and with it, Beringer coined the term "brunch," a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch, and gave rise to our culture's last real civilized meal.

AB: Now, skip on down to the spider web part. Yeah there ...
GB: Brunch is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper. It makes you satisfied with yourself, and your fellow beings. It sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.
AB: Man that's just, it's beautiful.
GB: Yes, I rather thought so.

    So, clearly Beringer intended for brunch to be prepared at home. And I, for one, say it's time that we took it back from restaurants who have bushwhacked it with platters of pasty pastries, sticky steam table Belgian waffles, and dried up, grainy eggs benedict. Ah, eggs benedict. Ironic that such an iconic dish, named for an infamous traitor, should suffer so at our hands. Well, I say the treachery stops here. Because with just a few quality ingredients, a small smattering of science, and a mere dram of technical technique, eggs benedict won't just be what's for brunch, it'll be ...

[Good Eats theme]

SCENE 2
The Kitchen

GUEST: Benedict Arnold
            A man yelling from off-camera
            E. C. Benedict
            Lemuel Benedict
            Mrs. Legrand Benedict
            Charles Ranhofer

    Okay, that last part was a little bit of a lie. Benedict Arnold did not invent eggs benedict, nor were they named for him.

MAN: [off camera] Traitor! [throws a cabbage at Arnold]
BENEDICT ARNOLD: Come on, that was a long time ago!

    Um, truth is, the dish's origins are a little hazy, at best.
    Now the food critic, Craig Claiborne, gave the cred to banker and yachtsman commodore, E. C. Benedict, who died back in 1920, at the ripe old age of 86, but not before inventing eggs benedict, supposedly in ...

AB: [shouting] What year was that, commodore?
E. C. BENEDICT: Well, it was a long time ago.

    Just as I suspected, a pretender.
    Now, the food scholar, Evan Jones, reports that back in the gay '90s, a hung-over Wall Street stockbroker, name of Lemuel Benedict, had a habit of staggering into the Waldorf, and ordering toast stacked with bacon, poached eggs, and, uh ...

LEMUEL BENEDICT: [drunkenly] Goose neck with hollandaise, please.

[transcriber's note: In actual food lore, Mr. Benedict was said to have ordered, "some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs, and a hooker of hollandaise." And by "hooker", Mr. Benedict meant a pitcher, much like a small pitcher of cream that is sometimes served with coffee.]

    I don't get it either. Well, the Waldorf's chef, one Oscar Tschirky, at the time, I think, eventually changed the toast to an English muffin, and put it on the menu.

LB: [to AB] Traitor!
BA: [from off camera] C'mon, stop!

    Look, then there's the tale of Mrs. Legrand Benedict, who, when unable to find anything she wanted on the menu at New York's Delmonico's, summoned chef Charles Ranhofer, who, after some consultation, whipped her up the very first eggs benedict.
    Now in his 1894 tome, "The Epicurean," Ranhofer does include a recipe for "Eggs a la Benedick," that's with a "ck." A misspelling? Perhaps, but the dishes intentions are crystal clear.

    [AB is reading from "The Epicurean"] All right, cut some muffins crosswise, toast without browning, place round of cooked ham, eighth of an inch thick, on each half, heat in moderate oven, and put a poached egg on each toast, cover the whole with hollandaise sauce. That sounds like eggs benedict to me.

SLICE MUFFINS CROSSWISE
TOAST WITHOUT BROWNING
PLACE ROUND OF HAM ON EACH
TOP WITH POACHED EGG
SAUCE WITH HOLLANDAISE

    Now, any fan of this show will no doubt notice that on various occasions we have dabbled with, well, three of the four components listed here. That said, when attempting to align them together on the same plate, at the same time, adaptation and innovation are required, starting of course with the muffins.
    [looking at a microscopic view of an English muffin] The English muffin is actually kin to the griddle baked crumpet, and was invented in 1880 by one baker named Samuel Thomas, in Chelsea. [map of London appears] No, not London, actually, but rather, New York City. [map of New York City appears]

MEN: [yelling, as in a famous commercial for Pace Picante Sauce] New York City?

    That's right, kids, English muffins are, in fact, American muffins, although Thomas himself was English. Anyway, they caught on very quickly in fancy hotels because they were so much easier to portion and toast than regular bread, which was still awaiting the invention of the mechanical bread slicer.
    Now although entire megamart aisles are dedicated to English muffins in a wide range of finishes and flavors, I have yet to taste one off of the rack that holds a candle to homemade.

    [at the countertop] Allow me to introduce the English muffin dry team. Twelve ounces by weight all-purpose flour, one quarter ounce of active dry yeast. That's one envelopes worth. One tablespoon of sugar. One teaspoon kosher salt. And 1.5 ounces of non-fat powdered milk. 12 Ounces All-Purpose Flour
¼ Ounce Active Dry Yeast
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1½ Ounces Non-Fat
    Powdered Milk

    Now, using this in place of liquid milk allows me to add structural proteins to the dough, as well as milk sugars, which can enhance browning, without having to add, of course, more liquid. Install your paddle attachment and mix 10 seconds.

    As for team liquid, heat 10 ounces of H2O and one tablespoon of shortening to 120 to 130 degrees, which would be a minute to two minutes on high, depending, of course, on your microwave. 10 Ounces Water +
1 Tbs. Shortening

    Some of you home bakers may have noticed I did not soak the yeast in warm water, or proof it before just chucking it in with the other ingredients. Now many applications that count on a rapid rise do this to rouse the wee beasties from the state of suspended animation into which they are placed for packaging. Since we are going for an all-night refrigerated rise, no such proofing is necessary.

Dim Sum the popular Chinese meal, is considered
by some to be the original brunch.

SCENE 3
The Kitchen

    Add the water and shortening to the dry goods, and slowly bring the mixer up to medium speed, and allow this to work for three minutes. And you're going to want to stop about halfway through the process to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    Now, all this agitation will marry the water to wheat proteins to produce gluten, the springy, bungee-like three-dimensional mesh that will provide an elastic and plastic structure capable of capturing most of the gas that will be produced by our delightful little yeasties. [demonstrates with a prop] Kind of like that.
    [back at the mixer] There. Time is up. Now that is some gooey stuff. It's actually more batter than dough. Why so wet? Because much of the water will turn into steam in the oven, providing additional lift, thus producing the big, open nooks and crannies, characteristic of the classic English muffin. Now I'm going to let this rise directly in the work bowl, but I don't want it to get a skin on it, so a little plastic wrap before refrigeration.
    [at the refrigerator] Whip this up, say, right after dinner on Saturday evening, and by Sunday morn, your dough will be infused with yeasty goodness. It'll also be stiff enough to take on a little extra air.
    Back onto the mixer, the same paddle, and we'll beat for another three minutes at medium speed. Meanwhile, we shall contemplate our muffin guidance system.
    Whether you cook them on a griddle or bake them in the oven, English muffins must be cooked inside some type of ring to have the proper shape and size. Now here are a few rings, four, that I picked up down at the kitchen emporium. It was about, I don't know, eight to ten dollars for a set. You're going to need eight for this application.
    Now this, on the other hand, is an empty food can[sniffs] water chestnuts, I thinkwith the ends cut out. This was free and, it's taller, which means it can hold more batter, which means you've got the option of making taller muffins, should you so desire. Now, either will work as long as they are properly lubed. So just set eight of your choice on a sheet pan, and blast with no-stick. [to the camera lens] Oh, you know, you might want to cover up for this. [sprays] There.

    Now tradition would demand a corn meal dusting, both top and bottom, but you know what, I don't like demands, and I prefer the flavor, texture, and look of rolled oats. So, half a teaspoon goes into the bottom of each ring. ½ tsp. Rolled Oats in Bottom
    of Each Ring

    Three minutes is up, so we extract the dough, which is even gooier than it was before. Just about the only way to dose this out will be a spring-loaded disher, which happens to deliver two ounces. And just divide the dough between the rings evenly, about halfway full, I'd say.
    Once the dough is evenly distributed, or as close as you can get, sprinkle on another half teaspoon of oats on each, and cover with parchment paper, and allow this to rest for 60 minutes so that the yeast can ...

YEAST SOCK PUPPET: [enters and belches]
AB: You know, this persistent releasing of gas is only funny to small children and men with names like Beavis.
YSP: [belches again]
AB: Thank you.

    After an hour, your doughs will be nicely risen, so just re-cover with the parchment and place another sheet pan on top, and bake in the middle of a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes if you're using short rings, 30 if you're using tall ones like we are. By the way, I'm perfectly aware of the fact that English muffins traditionally are griddle fried, but, believe me, when you're putting on brunch, you don't have time for that.

400 Degrees

    When you have about five minutes left to go, pull the top pan and the parchment paper and allow the muffins to brown nicely. And by the way, you're looking for a finished internal temperature of 210 degrees.
    When they're finished, allow them to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before de-ringing. And if they give you a little trouble coming out, just use a paring knife or a little offset spatula to free the crust. Everything will just ease right out of the tube. These guys, oh yeah, those are fine.
 

    Now let's say it's the morning of your brunch and you have an hour to prep, what are you going to do next? Well, for me, it depends on how many people we're talking about. If you have, you know, two, then I'd probably make the hollandaise and then poach the eggs, right before service. But, you know, what if you have six, eight, ten people? Do you really want to poach 12, 16, or even 20 eggs at the last minute? Oh sure, I mean, you could bake them in cups or fry them, but then you'll have Lemuel Benedict calling you a ...

PREP MUFFINS
MAKE HOLLANDAISE
POACH EGGS
COOK HAM

LB: Traitor!

    You don't want that. So, here now, a better way to perfectly poach a mess of eggs. It's going to seem a bit odd, but you're just going to have to trust me.

    Fetch down a six-quart straight-sided sauté pan, or a wide rondeau, and place four six-ounce custard cups inside. Then, pour in enough water to cover the cups by at least a quarter of an inch. See, a quarter of an inch. Well, close enough. All right. Then, add a quarter of a cup of plain white vinegar, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. There you go. Then crank the heat to high. Cover Cups With Water By
    At Least ¼ - Inch
¼ Cup White Vinegar
1 tsp. Kosher Salt

    Alright. Meanwhile, take a large mixing bowl, fill with water, insert a folding steamer basket, and about a quart of ice. There.

April 16th is National Eggs Benedict Day.

SCENE 4
The Kitchen

    [at the refrigerator] For four servings, we require eight very fresh eggs. Over time, the thick white around the yolk, not to mention the yolk membrane itself, breaks down making poaching all but impossible. So buy fresh or get yourself some chickens. 8 Fresh Eggs

    [at the stovetop] Now when your water hits a boil, back off the heat to just maintain about 205 degrees. That's key. Now, crack an egg into a custard cup and then move it to your first position inside the pot. Now we're going to time our entrances 10 seconds apart so that everything is done evenly. So crack your next egg, and at 10 seconds it goes into position number two. Another 10 seconds goes by, and we'll be ready to move into position number three. There we go. And by 30 seconds in, of course, you will have four eggs in position. This is going to be very helpful when it comes time to extract. Now five minutes is going to be the cook time. And keep monitoring that heat, for 205 degrees.
    Now at the five-minute mark, we start extracting the eggs, pulling them out at 10-second intervals. This way we know that everything is done evenly.

    [at the refrigerator] Now you can refrigerate your eggs in their bath for up to six hours without losing any real quality. So we will turn our attention to the hollandaise. And for that we'll need three egg yolks—oh, those are already outand half a pound of unsalted butter. Hey, I said it was good. I didn't say it was low-fat. ½ Pound Unsalted Butter

    [at the dining table] Besides providing color, moisture and flavor, egg yolks contain a phospholipid called lecithin, a molecule with a split personality. One end can dissolve in water, while the other one dissolves only in fats. Now as we build our sauce, we break the butterfat into small droplets, which become studded with these molecules and can, therefore, be held in a stable, suspended state inside the water phase of the sauce.

    Now there are several different pathways to hollandaise, all right? There's blender method, there's the clarified butter method, the double boiler method. All will produce a useful sauce. But, to my mind, only one delivers maximum flavor and optimum texture in a short amount of cooking time, and that is the infamous direct heat, stove top method, which, it turns out, isn't that scary at all.

SPECIAL EDITION
HA HA HOLLANDAISE
A Sauce Adventure!

STOVE TOP

    [at the stovetop] Start by fetching down your favorite two-quart sauce pan or saucier, which is even better. Grab your favorite whisk, and invite three egg yolks to the party, along with one tablespoon of water. That'll help to loosen up the mixture, make it easier to work. Add to that, some flavor. A quarter teaspoon of ground cayenne, and a quarter teaspoon of my favorite, kosher salt. There. 3 Large Egg Yolks
1 Tbs. Water
¼ tsp. Ground Cayenne
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt

    Now we're going to beat this until it's light and frothy for one minute. When one minute is up, you can turn one of your burners onto low heat, and then just start moving the pan off and on the heat at 10 second intervals.
    Now if you have an infrared thermometer, you might want to shoot a temp every now and then, or use your instant-read. The goal, hit 140 to 145 degrees tops, and get there nice and slowly so that you don't scramble anything.
    So just keep moving it on the heat and off the heat, back and forth. All right, we are at 140, or very close to it. And if you look, you can see that the eggs aren't running around the pan anymore, they look kind of like a stirred custard. So it is time to add the butter, one pat at a time. Now we want to keep the mixture at around 120 degrees.

    Okay, when half the butter is in, add one tablespoon of the lemon juice. Now at this point, don't worry if things don't thicken up too much. Keep in mind butter is 12 to 15 percent water. So as it melts, the water part is going to keep the sauce thinned out. And that's good, because it makes the emulsion easier to tend, both on and off the heat. 1 Tbs. Freshly Squeezed
    Lemon Juice
    When the butter is finally in, you can add some extra flavorants. We'll go with one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, another quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper for the fresher flavor, and a quarter teaspoon of sugar, to kind of even things out. Then, give it a taste. 1 Tbs. Freshly Squeezed
    Lemon Juice [sic]
¼ tsp. Ground Cayenne
    Pepper
¼ tsp. Sugar
    Nice cling, good body. Mmm, creamy, could use a little more lemon, and a pinch more salt. Lemon Juice & Kosher Salt
    to taste.

    To store, preheat a wide-mouth thermos with really hot water, dump out the water, pour in the hollandaise, and seal. Now you're going to be able to hold this for an hour to maybe two. After that, the quality will head downhill fast.

Although Hollandaise is as French as Pepé Le Pew, the name is a nod to the Netherlands which exported a great deal of high quality butter to France.

SCENE 5
The Kitchen

    [at the refrigerator] Okay, time to retrieve the eggs. We also, of course, need eight thin slices of Canadian bacon. That's a smoked back bacon, or loin, which Canadians no more refer to as Canadian bacon in Canada, than the English call English muffins, "English muffins," in England. Yeah, that's right. 8 Slices Canadian Bacon

    [at the countertop] Now if you want your eggs to look extra pretty, you can trim the edges with some scissors, but it's completely optional.
    Now here we have our pot of water, set to high for reheating, a timer, always a good idea, and a sauté pan, small, set to medium-low.
    Now as for prepping the muffins, do not cut them with a knife. You always want to split them with a fork to enhance the texture. [opens one up with a fork] Ah see, that's what we're looking for. And you want to toast those under the broiler for three to four minutes. That'll give you time to julienne the Canadian bacon, which you will add to the sauté pan. No fat needed, really. And allow to, well, just kind of move it around until it starts getting hot.
    Now for the eggs, we've got the water boiling, so just lift up that steamer basket, and move directly into the hot water. That's going to take about a minute, maybe two, to heat up. Cut the water off, no heat needed. The timer is running. Another minute, your ham is done, and stop your timer, and extract your eggs. Now I like to use just the handle of a ladle for this [raising the hot steamer basket out of the pot]. Nice and handy. And you can just slide some metal skewers under that to kind of prop them above that hot, steamy water, to keep them warm until the last moment.
    Now, we prep the plate. Of course, the fruit salad and asparagus is optional. Now I like to put a little bit of the hollandaise under each one of the English muffin halves to keep things from sliding around, just in case things get crazy. Then some of the Canadian bacon goes down, shredded, very nice, easier to eat than a whole piece. One egg goes on top of each of those. And then, of course, the pièce de résistance, the hollandaise. And look, see how that kind of sits up there but runs down the side? That's exactly what you want to see. Perfect.
    [at the dining table with the guests in the first scenes] Well, regardless of how eggs benedict came into being, I think we all owe Mr. Guy Beringer a big, fat "thanks," and a promise not to screw up his meal ever again.
    As for eggs benedict variations, I must admit I sometimes eat mine as a sandwich. And sometimes I mix a little crab meat into the bacon.

LB: Traitor!
BA: You shut up!
GB: How stimulating!
LB: [apparently is goosed by Guy Beringer] Oh!
CR: [laughs]

    I think ... You know, I think I'm going to need another mimosa right away. See you next time on Good Eats.


Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 11/02/2010