This version riffs on Julia Child’s classic hollandaise—and skips the poaching, too.

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There's a reason that classics are classics: They're delicious, versatile, and always worth revisiting. I had a little refresher course in the making of one such classic, hollandaise, when I was styling food for an upcoming documentary about Julia Child's life. I did it the old-fashioned way—Julia's way—by hand, with a whisk, and I fell back in love with this hands-on technique. Instead of relying on a blender (which I've certainly done before!), it's so nice to be able to feel the subtle changes as the eggs begin to thicken the sauce, slowing your whisk with their satiny richness.

Eggs Benny Toast
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer and Paige Grandjean / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

For me, part of this classic's appeal is the room it gives for adaptation and invention. For my homage to Julia's original dish, I've sneaked in a little mustard and a dash of cornstarch to help hold this most fragile of sauces together in a smooth and creamy emulsion. I like to use a saucier instead of a double boiler; its bowl shape and rounded bottom allow you to whisk freely, with no sharp corners to trap stubborn bits of sauce. And I'm giving you a break from poaching by using jammy steamed eggs. Add a thick slice of sourdough toast and plenty of crispy prosciutto, and you're all set. The billowy hollandaise stays mainly on top, but you can always go back in to mop up any sauce that lands on the plate. I like to think that Julia would approve.

Get the Recipe: Eggs Benny Toast