Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sauces, Part II - Hollandaise

Here, as promised, is the start of posts featuring sauces that are made from scratch, without the help of roast drippings or what-have-you - sauces like Hollandaise, Buerre Blanc, and Bechamel. I thought I could do all three in one post, but there are a lot of awesome 'basics' that can be learned from each one, so I'll have to separate them. I feel I should warn you though - I'm a Trial & Error cook - I've never actually been trained... I just read recipes and use my judgment. I may not be explaining things in a very scientific (or altogether correct?) manner, but it works for me so maybe it'll work for you too!

We'll start with Hollandaise - it's my favourite. Lemony, buttery - mmmm....
This sauce is formed by emulsifying (binding) melted butter to egg yolk, plus a few other flavour enhancers (PS, this is kind of how Mayonnaise is formed too - just a different kind of fat added to egg yolks). It's very important that you start out by adding the butter a few drops at a time while whisking as fast as you can. You can slowly start to add more at a time from there, but it should never be faster than a thin stream - your whisking should keep up with the additions.
*If you like to eyeball amounts like I do, it's better to melt more butter than you think you'll need, just incase you end up with a sauce that's too thick. In reverse, if your sauce is really thin, you can warm it slightly, and slowly whisk it into another yolk or two*

Eggs Benedict from Milestones - still the best restaurant version I've found!
Hollandaise - modified from Julia Childs Mastering version (she's still the best!)
3/4-1 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp lemon juice (more can be added after, if desired)
Pinch of coarse salt
Pinch of cayenne
1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter

1) In a small saucepan, beat the egg yolks vigorously until they start to look thick and sticky. Add the lemon juice and seasonings and beat to combine.
2) Add the cold butter, and set over very low heat and stir gently with the whisk until the butter is melted (the right heat is very important here! you do not want to cook your yolks!) and the mixture begins to thicken again slightly. If it's not thickening and you're impatient like me, move on. What's the worst that could happen?
3) Remove from heat and, whisking away, slowly pour the melted butter in drop by drop at first, and then increasing to a very thin stream. If the sauce reaches the consistency you want before you run out of butter, just stop! No need to use it all.
Taste for seasoning, adjust, and try to serve as soon as possible. If you have to wait a bit, keep it on the stove at as low a temperature as possible.

Serving Suggestions:
- Poached eggs (obvious)
- Lightly cooked asparagus
- Poached white fish
- Chicken, poached or panfried
- Beef, but not like a steak - thinly sliced, roulade, etc.
- Potatoes, boiled or roasted

.... it's so delicious, go ahead and put it on anything. It's guaranteed to taste good!!! There are also a lot of variations on Hollandaise - you can add chopped herbs, trade the lemon for orange, or whisk in cream if you don't think butter is enough!

What are you waiting for?? Get cooking??

1 comment:

  1. Many a chef would chastise you for this recipe! However, I believe cooking is about "if it tastes good then who cares!?". In fact, the way I made Hollandaise when I cooked at a B&B was to melt the butter in the MICROWAVE! (horror of horrors!) Nice job, J. Now where's the post on the perfect poached egg to pair with your pretty sauce? ;)