Trail Chef: Easter Eggs Benedict

Who says you can't enjoy fresh poached eggs in the backcountry?

The egg truly is a miracle of nature. Each one packs more than 6 grams of protein, only 71 calories, and a wealth of nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc, as well as vitamins A, D, and B12. Of course, for several years, there was a lot of hubbub about eggs’ cholesterol content. But since then, medical research has exonerated the poor egg and reaffirmed its salutary status. Some recent studies, for example, have shown that when you eat the whole egg, a substance in the whites counteracts the cholesterol in the yolk.

But there’s another reason eggs are so fantastic, at least for backpackers: Each egg comes with its own Tupperware container. The shell, while not as sturdy as Tupperware, keeps the contents just as fresh and edible. Eggs can keep unrefrigerated for days (as long as the temperature doesn’t get too hot for extended periods of time and it’s not extremely humid). This is because of a protective, waxy cuticle encapsulating the egg. In fact, Compared to raw eggs, hardboiled eggs are more vulnerable to spoilage. The reason? Cooking destroys the waxy cuticle, which opens pores on the egg’s surface, making it easier for bacteria to contaminate the egg. Still, there’s the breakage issue, but a simple egg container (see below) skirts this problem. So now there’s no reason not to enjoy your favorite egg dishes in the backcountry. Here’s one of our favorites: Eggs Benedict.


(for 1 serving)

4 eggs (or 2 eggs if you bring packets of hollandaise sauce, such as by Knorr’s)

2 pieces of cured ham (the curing reduces spoilage)

1 English muffin

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter, total

Salt to taste

Lemon juice to taste

To make the hollandaise sauce, separate the yolks from two eggs and then mix them with cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan. Stir until blended, add a small amount of the butter, put on medium heat, and stir until the sauce is creamy and smooth. Boil water and begin to poach the other two eggs, making sure the water is not boiling hard since this will tear the poached egg apart (that is, the water should be simmering but not bubbling excessively). 

Top each side of the English muffin with butter, ham, and poached egg. Drizzle hollandaise sauce over the top, and enjoy!

—Mike Donley, Trail Chef