Purple Sprouting and Hollandaise is a classic and very delicious combination. There is a variation “Maltaise” – Hollandaise with blood orange which is famously paired with asparagus or purple sprouting broccoli but personally I prefer it without the orange.
Hollandaise is typically used in the classic “Eggs Benedict”, which got me thinking of trying to add the purple sprouting broccoli to an English muffin, as they are known in America, and create a new brunch dish. I replaced the ham with crispy streaky bacon (another great combo with purple sprouting broccoli) but apart from that and the purple sprouting broccoli the rest is the typical poached egg, and napped in Hollandaise. But what to call it. The classic French names usually have little clues in them of origin or ingredient. Hollandaise sauce must have its routes in Holland, Maltaise sauce, as oranges come from Malta, Eggs Florentine as Florence was famous for spinach and Eggs Benedict originate from a famous wall street broker with a hang-over at The Waldorf Hotel in New York. This is the best I could do.
For the Hollandaise sauce
1 small onion or shallot, very finely chopped
50mls white wine vinegar plus a splash for poaching the eggs
125g good quality butter, cut into cubes
2 free-range egg yolks
Squeeze of lemon
2 English muffins, split in half horizontally, toasted
Large handful of purple sprouting broccoli
6 rashers of good quality streaky bacon
4 very fresh free-range eggs
Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil.
Make the hollandaise: In a small pan, heat the onions, vinegar and a little water. Boil until the liquid has reduced to around a tablespoon (keep an eye on it, as the liquid will suddenly reduce very quickly). Take off the heat immediately and strain through a fine sieve. Reserve the liquid, discard the onion and leave to cool. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl (one that fits snugly over the pan of barely simmering water) and add the vinegar reduction.
Whisk the yolks vigorously until pale in colour and voluminous (this will take a good few minutes, so be patient and keep the heat really low to avoid over-cooking and scrambling the eggs).
Still whisking constantly, start adding the butter, drip by drip initially. Keep adding and whisking, so the mixture emulsifies and looks glossy; this will take about 5 minutes. Don’t add the butter too quickly, or the mixture will split. If it does split you can rescue it by putting another egg yolk in a clean bowl and gradually whisking it into the split mixture. If it has scrambled, unfortunately you won’t be able to save it.
Once the butter is all incorporated, add a good squeeze of lemon juice and add salt to taste. The hollandaise can be kept warm but not hot.
Trim the purple sprouting broccoli into nice tender stems. If the stems are too thick cut them in half lengthways. Add to the pan of boiling salted water and cook for 3 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Add a dash of vinegar to the same water and watch it turn pink and at a gentle rolling boil, carefully crack in your eggs. Cook until your liking and remove with a slotted spoon onto some kitchen paper.
Meanwhile fry your bacon until crisp on both sides in a frying pan with a little veg oil. Drain on kitchen paper and cut in half so that they fit on the muffins.
Spilt the muffins and toast. Arrange the muffins halves on a plate, top with crispy slices on bacon, plenty of purple sprouting broccoli and then place a poached egg on top of each and pour the Hollandaise sauce over the top. Serve straight away.