Following on from Ian Ogilvy’s Witchfinder General themed Turnip and Onion Soup, I’m returning to Silver Screen Suppers’ ongoing Murder She Cooked project in search of further lockdown diversion. This time it’s ‘Red Eye Eggs Benedict’ – this one associated with Mark Rolston of Aliens (above) who appeared in four Irish-themed episodes of Murder She Wrote including two as Sergeant Boyle of the Garda. Mark recently appeared in a March 2020 episode of Hawaii 5-0 with the catchy title I ho’olulu, ho’ohulei ‘ia e ka makaniĀ , so you could accompany this with a glass of Pineapple juice (or does that MAD running joke just apply to the 1970’s series?).

Eggs Benedict on Malted Milk

Scanning the recipe to get the ingredients together, the first surprise was that it called for “8 large biscuits”, halved and toasted! Biscuits? Some quick research revealed that this is a type of bread popular in the American south. They’re sourdough items similar to a scone but made with buttermilk. Recipes are available, so you could bake your own. Or use scones? But I settled for some sourdough bread with the crusts cut off. Slipped them in the toaster and then set them aside.

Once again, in the interests of social distancing and masking, I tried this recipe in the guise of Dr Syn – Alias The Scarecrow

Just keep the gas flame low

The Dr Syn analogy is apt. Like The Scarecrow waiting to lead his band of smugglers on a raid you need to ensure the quick, co-ordinated accomplishment of several acts in co-ordination. Of course, there has to be a twist to provide that note of potential danger, and this recipe delivers the complication of the ‘Red Eye Sauce’. It also makes sense to read the recipe closely, and – if you’re downsizing from four servings to two – make sure you write your downsizing calculations down right.

As insubstantial and unengaging as a politicians promise

In my first attempt to make the Hollandaise Sauce, I neglected the instruction to reduce the pepper, vinegar, water mix down before adding the egg yolk and water. I also got my quantities of water wrong, and then added the butter cold instead of melting it beforehand. So there I was, whipping and whisking and whirling, spattering liquid over the cooker and erupting into the flames and naturally it refused to thicken. It remained as insubstantial and unengaging as a party Political Broadcast.

As thick and buttery as a politician

In a guttural Patrick McGoohan voice, I gave the order to abandon the first attempt! Back to the recipe with my merry band of cutthroats! I made sure I actually understood what it was telling me to do. I set the butter to melt in a separate pan and got my calculations right. I took care to reduce the pepper, vinegar and water til it was just covering the pan and then added the egg yolk. Even as I whisked, with less liquid in the pan it quickly became clear what the recipe meant about pulling it away from the heat if the egg was in danger of scrambling. I poured in the melted butter and kept whisking. Within seconds it was ready. I’ve only ever had healthy, light Holland Sauce out of a jar before, and the white pepper gave this sauce more of a buzz, with the egg yolk and butter rendering a more decadent texture, as thick and oleaginous as a politician.

Somebody send for Colt Seavers !

At this stage, I have to admit that while I followed the full recipe for the close-up shots, I brought in my stuntman, in the form of Marks and Spencer Hollandaise sauce for the wide shots. Emptying the shop-bought Hollandaise into a saucepan, I fried the ‘Country-Smoked Ham Steaks’ – or Marks and Spencer Traditional Smoked Gammon Steaks and then “trimmed them into rounds”. Or knifed them into shapes roughly approximating the toasted bread.

And you have to save the grease afterwards!
It’s getting tense in the kitchen!

At this point the recipe calls for the creation of the ‘Red Eye Sauce’ – a tablespoon of butter and a quarter of a cup of cold coffee added to the grease left in the frying pan and then reduced for a few minutes over a medium heat. Meanwhile, “poach the eggs in the boiling water and vinegar” or use your trusty K-Tel Poach Pan cheat (“Never be embarrassed again by your poached eggs! Your family will be amazed by the cavalcade of poached egg dishes you produce with the accompanying recipe cards!”)

And here is where the magic coincides. Lay the Ham and Eggs on the “biscuits” and then cover them with the Hollandaise Sauce to which you have added the “Red Eye Sauce”. The bitter-butter taste of the smoked-fat and coffee liquor adds a tasty kick to shop bought Hollandaise and will doubtless send Mark Rolston’s peppery Hollandaise into the realms of artery tickling Nirvana.

Did you ever fall in love with someone you shouldn’t’ve?

I make no claims for the prettiness of the photo – it’s the Lee Marvin of food photography – it’s that girl your mother always told you to steer clear of. And I make no claims for having done anything more than follow what the recipe clearly told me to do. But that is a magnificent Eggs Benedict. The original recipe suggests garnishing with half a jalapeno pepper – but I’d say no – in the current crisis you don’t want to go raising your body temperature!