( SERVES 4 )
- Grill ham (sliced off the bone) until hot.
- Soft-poach eggs in a pan of simmering water.
- Toast muffins in a toaster.
- Place ham on toasted muffins, top with well-drained poached eggs, smother with hollandaise sauce and season with pepper.
- Heat butter to melt but do not boil, then cool to blood heat - this can be done in a saucepan or microwave.
- Place egg yolks, half the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender or the bowl of a smaller-style food processor (the bigger, more commercial-sized processors are too large for this amount of sauce). Process for 2 to 3 minutes, until thickened to a pale foam.
- With the motor running continuously, slowly pour butter in through the feed tube in a thin and steady stream. A thick, creamy sauce will form. Add more lemon juice to taste and adjust seasoning with salt if necessary. Use immediately or hold for a short while at a lukewarm temperature (see tips).
- When blanched spinach is used in place of ham, this dish is known as Eggs Florentine.
- Hot pastrami or grilled bacon can be substituted for the traditional sliced ham.
- The key to a good hollandaise is to make the initial mixture really thick and frothy so that it can incorporate the melted butter without splitting (curdling).
- Hollandaise sauce is best made and used immediately but, if necessary, keep it in a warm place (for instance on or near the stove top) because if it becomes cold it will set and reheating will cause it to split.
- If the mixture does split, don't throw out the ingredients. Start again with fresh egg yolks, then, instead of adding more melted butter, add the separated mixture. It will come together into a creamy hollandaise sauce without wastage.