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Southern Biscuits with Apricot Country Ham, Poached Eggs, and Apricot Hollandaise

Southern Biscuits with Apricot Country Ham, Poached Eggs, and Apricot Hollandaise

Ingredients

MAKES 2 SERVINGS

FOR THE SOUTHERN BISCUITS

2 cups all-purpose flour (not self-rising) - I like Martha White or White Lily for biscuits

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, lard or Crisco

3/4 to 1 cup really good  buttermilk

Unsalted butter softened for brushing the tops

FOR JULIA’S HOLLANDAISE

3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Sea salt to taste

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Fresh white ground pepper to taste

ADDITIONAL

Country Ham (Choose your favorite store bought country ham slices (sometimes they come with biscuit pieces). I really like the heavy smoke flavor that is in Allan Benton’s from Madisonville, Tennessee. You can order it online, or check with your local butcher on the best quality they might offer.)

Eggs

1 tablespoon Vinegar

Directions

Prep Time: 35 mins

Cook Time: 40 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Southern Biscuits

Preheat the oven to 500°F. In a wide and deep bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and combine with the flour mixture until it looks like coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk and gently mix until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, and compress and push the dough away from you. Gently fold dough back over itself, giving the dough a small turn and repeat 8 or so times. Again, be gentle as you want to just barely want to activate the gluten, not overwork it. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour. Lightly dust the rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out 3/4 inch thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter that has been dipped in flour, and press the cutter straight down. Pull straight up with no twisting, and the biscuits should rise evenly when baked.

Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet or in an 8-9 inch round cake pan. If the biscuits are baked close together the sides will be moist. If the biscuits are baked further apart, the sides will be crisp.

Using a metal spatula, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for 10 to 14 minutes total until lightly golden brown. When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with softened or melted butter. Transfer to a rack to cool just slightly. When not using two biscuits, each sliced in half for this recipe, serve warm with lots of butter, sorghum, or sausage gravy.

Plate 2 biscuits, sliced in half and buttered.

Country Ham

Cook two ham slices in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove ham, add one tablespoon of butter to the same skillet and quickly whisk in one tablespoon of apricot preserves for 1 to 2 minutes. Place ham back into the pan to keep warm, turning as necessary. Repeat this method for each additional serving.

Place ham slices evenly shared on top of biscuits. Top ham slices with pan juices.

Poached Eggs

For the most success, and a “tighter’ poached egg, use fresh eggs. As eggs get older their makeup changes and the whites become more fluid when dropping them in boiling water. A spoonful of vinegar does help by encouraging the whites to coagulate faster. Just a splash won’t change the taste and almost guarantees success. If poaching several eggs at once, make sure there’s room in your pot for each one to have room (Remember Julia Child saying to not crowd the mushrooms? Same concept). Crack the eggs into separate measuring cups and slip them into the water one by one. You’ll also need to extend the cooking time by about 30 seconds for each extra egg.

Fill a saucepan 2/3 full with water and bring to a rolling boil. Don’t skip this step. Turn the heat down to a medium simmer. Bubbles will come up to the surface, but it won’t be rolling. Crack the egg into a small measuring cup. Add optional teaspoon of vinegar. Lower the egg carefully into the water and gently fold it out into the water. Water now should be at a low simmer. If you are like me and seek a firm white and a gooey, runny yolk, cook the eggs for 4 minutes. One minute longer for a harder yolk. Less if you like a runny white. Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the egg from the water as it drains.

Place the poached egg on a top of the country ham with apricot glaze atop of the Southern biscuit. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Hollandaise

It’s pretty simple to make it fresh by using these steps:

Whisk the yolks, water, and lemon juice in the saucepan for a few moments, until thick and pale (this prepares them for what is to come).

Set the pan over moderately low heat and continue to whisk at reasonable speed, reaching all over the bottom and insides of the pan, where the eggs tend to overcook.

To moderate the heat, frequently move the pan off the burner for a few seconds, and then back on. (If, by chance, the eggs seem to be cooking too fast, set the pan in the bowl of cold water to cool the bottom, then continue).

As they cook, the eggs will become frothy and increase in volume, and then thicken. When you can see the pan bottom through the streaks of the whisk and the eggs are thick and smooth, remove from the heat.

By spoonfuls, add the soft butter, whisking constantly to incorporate each addition. As the emulsion forms, you may add the butter in slightly larger amounts, always whisking until fully absorbed. Continue incorporating butter until the sauce has thickened to the consistency you want.

Season lightly with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper, whisking in well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding droplets of lemon juice if needed. Serve lukewarm.

Top the poached eggs sitting on the apricot glazed country ham and biscuits with a generous amount of hollandaise. Sprinkle with fresh herbs (optional) like my chive blossom, thyme, basil or other.

This recipe appears complicated but it’s actually quite easy. Make the biscuits first. Keep them warm, cook the ham next, and while the eggs are poaching whip up the hollandaise. Just layer and serve this amazing meal. A shortcut to Julia’s hollandaise is to buy a dry packet from your favorite grocery store, add 1/4 lemon juiced and seeded, and whisk in 2 tablespoons of Bonne Maman Apricot Preserves.
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