Half fill a tall pan (20 cm at least) with water. Bring water to the boil and add the vinegar. Reduce to a simmer with a gentle rise of bubbles.
One by one crack the eggs into the pan, ‘swirling’ the water gently with a spoon.
Poach the eggs for 2–3 minutes until cooked. The whites should be set but the yolk still soft. Lift each egg out with a slotted spoon.
‘Refresh’ the eggs in cold water to arrest the cooking process, then reheat in boiling water when ready to serve.
Hollandaise sauce :
Put the vinegar, shallots and peppercorns into a saucepan and reduce by two thirds. Strain the liquid into a glass bowl. This is the reduction.
Melt the butter on a gentle heat. Remove from heat and allow it to settle away. Skim the surface until only a clear liquid remains. This is clarified butter.
3 Place a round-bottomed bowl over a pan of steaming water. Add the egg yolks and 1 ½ tbs of the reduction. The rest of the reduction can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Beat the mixture over the heat until the yolks form a thick pale mass without lumps.
Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously, adding enough clarified butter to make the sauce thick and creamy. Any leftover clarified butter can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Toast the muffins and place a slice of ham onto each one.
Place the hot poached egg onto the ham and spoon over the Hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately.
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