I know Eggs Benedict is traditionally made with hollandaise sauce, not bernaise, but they are have some very similar flavours (lots of butter, eggs and a little lemon) so that’s what I call this. The version I have pictured was chicken, avocado and sauce, but I have also made a version with ham, the method for which I will explain below. If you use really big chicken breasts, you can serve four people with two, if the breasts are small you had better use four, just to make sure everyone gets enough. You can serve this with a lovely salad (to offset all that rich butter) or even rice to soak up some of the lovely sauce. If I have the oven going (if I cook the chicken in the oven) I will often cook potatoes or sweet potatoes as well, they go really well with the sauce.
Traditional bernaise sauce makers look away, I don’t strain the flavourings out of my sauce, I love the texture and flavour they provide so won’t strain them out and throw them away!
Two large, or four small, chicken breasts;
1 ripe avocado;
4 slices of good quality sandwich ham if you are making the version with ham; (optional)
150 ml white wine;
1 tsp dried tarragon;
6 shakes of freshly ground black pepper (by this I mean turn the grinder six times so you get nice chunky bits of black pepper in the sauce);
2 finely chopped spring onions;
2 tbs white wine vinegar;
3 egg yolks;
1 tbsp iced water;
125g butter, chopped;
Juice of half a lemon.
Cook the chicken and keep warm. You can either pan fry it, or cook it in the oven in a covered dish. This is the method I use when I do the version with ham. I cook the chicken for about half an hour at 180 celcius in a fan forced oven, then cover each breast with a slice of ham, put the lid back on the dish and cook another 5 minutes.
At the same time:
Place the white wine, tarragon, pepper, spring onions and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for five minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Place into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool.
Beat the eggs together with the iced water. Choose a saucepan that your bowl will fit in , put a small amount of water into it and bring to the boil (the bowl should not touch the water). Once the syrup has cooled to room temperature (if you put the eggs in while the syrup is hot they will cook straight away and you will ruin your sauce) put the bowl over the boiling water, and add the eggs, stirring all the while. Whisk until the mixture is fluffy and has doubled.
Gradually add the butter, a piece at the time, stirring until each piece melts before adding the next. Once all the butter is melted and mixed through, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. (Use as soon as possible or the sauce will separate if you leave it to stand too long).
Cut the avocado into slices and arrange over the chicken (or chicken & ham) and pour the sauce over the lot. Enjoy.