I am totally fascinated by emulsions, those silky mixtures of water-based liquids and fat. I’d love to claim this has something to do with my chemistry background and an interest in immiscible liquids and amphiphilic molecules, but, in truth, I think it’s because I like the creamy rich mixtures that result. I love mayonnaise, an emulsion of oil and vinegar; vinaigrettes, in which mustard holds the oil and vinegar together, although not as well as the egg yolks in mayonnaise; and even cake batters, in which a few egg yolks work to hold the butter and milk (or whatever liquid) together, and have such trouble doing it that the ingredients need to be as close in temperature as possible to prevent curdling.
Hollandaise, an emulsion of butter and lemon juice, again held together by egg yolks (the kitchen’s favorite emulsifier), isn’t my thing though. It isn’t that I don’t like it – what isn’t to like, other than blowing your entire day’s worth of calories for breakfast? It’s just that I don’t see the point, when my old favorite pretend-fattening ingredient, Greek yogurt, does such a good job of mimicking the richness of traditional hollandaise.
You still add egg yolks to make the sauce silky smooth, and this yogurt-based sauce has all the same flavorings as a full-fat version, with the lemon juice, salt, and spice (hot sauce here instead of cayenne powder). A pinch of sugar and tiny squeeze of mustard round out the flavors. And in the spirit of being healthier but maybe not perfectly healthy, I usually stir some tiny cubes of butter into the sauce to add richness.
There’s no question that the main advantage of this sauce over traditional hollandaise is that you’re not pouring nearly pure butter over your eggs. But it doesn’t hurt that it’s easier and less finicky either, requiring nothing more than a quick whisk over a double boiler, with no worries about the emulsion breaking. I guess I like fake emulsions just as much as real ones.
Enough for 6 servings of eggs benedict
You can use any fat level of Greek yogurt you like. I always use low-fat, because that’s the easiest to find where I live.
Sometimes I also add a tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes, and heat it with the other ingredients.
I didn’t make traditional eggs Benedict; I topped my English muffins with green chile, avocado, poached eggs, and hollandaise.
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
pinch of white pepper
dash hot Tabasco sauce
1. In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, egg yolks, mustard, salt, sugar, pepper and Tabasco sauce.
2. Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. (The sauce can be set aside at room temperature for up to 1 hour; reheat gently in double boiler.)