Sauce 5 – Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise SauceHollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk and liquid butter, usually seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich and buttery, with a mild tang added by an acidic component such as lemon juice, yet not so strong as to overpower mildly-flavoured foods. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 cup clarified butter (about 2½ sticks before clarifying)
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoon lemon juice (the juice from 1 small lemon)
1 tablespoon cold water
Kosher salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce), to taste

Directions:

Heat an inch or two of water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Also, your clarified butter should be warm, but not hot. Combine the egg yolks and the cold water in a glass or stainless steel bowl (not aluminum) whisk for a minute or two, until the mixture is light and foamy. Whisk in a couple of drops of lemon juice, too. The water in the saucepan should have begun to simmer. Set the bowl directly atop the saucepan of simmering water. The water itself should not come in contact with the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the eggs for a minute or two, until they’re slightly thickened. Remove the bowl from the heat and begin adding the melted butter slowly at first, a few drops at a time, while whisking constantly. If you add it too quickly, the emulsion will break. Continue beating in the melted butter. As the sauce thickens, you can gradually increase the rate at which you add it, but at first, slower is better.

After you’ve added all the butter, whisk in the remaining lemon juice and season to taste with Kosher salt and cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce). The finished hollandaise sauce will have a smooth, firm consistency. If it’s too thick, you can adjust the consistency by whisking in a few drops of warm water. It’s best to serve hollandaise right away. You can hold it for about an hour or so, provided you keep it warm. After two hours, though, you should toss it — both for quality and safety reasons.

Bernaise SauceBéarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise is a rich, buttery, aromatic sauce featuring shallots, tarragon and crushed black peppercorns. It’s one of the most amazing sauces to serve with a grilled steak. If you will be serving this sauce with meat, and you keep kosher, instead of using butter, you should use margarine so that the sauce remains pareve (non-dairy). This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 cup clarified butter (about 2½ sticks before clarifying)
4 egg yolks
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon*
1 tablespoon chopped chervil (or parsley)*
Kosher salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce), to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

Heat an inch or two of water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Also, your clarified butter should be warm, but not hot. In a separate saucepan, heat the vinegar, shallots, peppercorns and half of the tarragon to a simmer and reduce until the mixture is nearly dry (au sec). There should be about two tablespoons of liquid remaining. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass or stainless steel bowl (not aluminum). Add the egg yolks and whisk for a minute or two, until the mixture is light and foamy. The water in the saucepan should have begun to simmer. Set the bowl directly atop the saucepan of simmering water. The water itself should not come in contact with the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the egg-vinegar mixture for a minute or two, until it is slightly thickened. Remove the bowl from the heat and begin adding the melted butter slowly at first, a few drops at a time, while whisking constantly. If you add it too quickly, the emulsion will break. Continue beating in the melted butter.

As the sauce thickens, you can gradually increase the rate at which you add it, but at first, slower is better. After you’ve added all the butter, strain the sauce into a new bowl, stir in the chervil and the remaining tarragon. Season to taste with lemon juice, Kosher salt and cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce). The finished béarnaise sauce will have a smooth, firm consistency. If it’s too thick, you can adjust the consistency by whisking in a few drops of warm water. It’s best to serve béarnaise right away. You can hold it for about an hour or so, provided you keep it warm. After two hours, though, you should toss it — both for quality and safety reasons.

* click here to learn how to properly clean tarragon, chervil and parsley.

Chantilly SauceChantilly Sauce

The Chantilly Sauce is a classic sauce made by adding stiffly whipped cream to a basic Hollandaise sauce. Sometimes called Mousseline sauce, it can be served with seafood, vegetables or poultry, or, sweetened, on crepes and other desserts. The Chantilly Sauce can also be made with whipped egg whites instead of whipped cream. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Hollandaise sauce
½ cup heavy cream

Directions:

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks, then fold it into 1 pint Hollandaise sauce. Serve right away.

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Mother Sauces – Day 5

Mother SaucesAhh Hollandaise sauce! My absolute favourite out of the five, if not out of all the sauces out there. Yes, I realize that is a pretty big statement to make, but have you tasted it??? It is just so good! Hollandaise is a wonderfully rich, lemony and buttery sauce that goes with eggs, vegetables and poached fish. The sauce is pretty famous for being a key ingredient in Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine. But what about to accompany artichokes?! That is my absolute favourite way to eat both the sauce and the vegetable. I realize I’m being a little obsessive about this sauce, I mean it’s just a sauce for Pete’s sake, but it is just so good. You know how certain food things just make you happy? For me that would be roasted turkey (the white meat) with cranberry sauce, sashimi, creamy mashed potatoes with rich brown gravy, and you guessed it, artichokes with hollandaise sauce. I know, this isn’t the first time that I will call myself strange in this blog.

As for the history of the sauce, there is debate as to who originally developed it. Some historians believe that it was invented in the Netherlands then taken to France by the Huguenots (what the Protestants of the time where called in a mainly Catholic France). A recipe for hollandaise sauce appears in a Dutch cookbook by Carel Baten, which dates from 1593. In 1651, François Pierre La Varenne describes a sauce similar to hollandaise in his groundbreaking cookbook Le Cuisinier François: “avec du bon beurre frais, un peu de vinaigre, sel et muscade, et un jaune d’œuf pour lier la sauce” (“with good fresh butter, a little vinegar, salt, and nutmeg, and an egg yolk to bind the sauce”). The sauce using egg yolks and butter appeared in the 19th century. Although various sources say it was first known as “sauce Isigny” (a town in Normandy said to have been renowned for the quality of its butter), Isabella Beeton’s Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management has recipes in the first edition (1861) for “Dutch sauce, for fish” and its variant on the following page, “Green sauce, or Hollandaise verte”. Her directions for hollandaise were to “…put all the ingredients, except the lemon-juice, into a stew-pan; set it over the fire, and keep continually stirring. When it is sufficiently thick, take it off, as it should not boil…”

No matter where it orginated, it’s here now, and I for one am grateful. Hollandaise is made by emulsifying butter, lemon juice and egg yolks, and has a few popular small sauces. Here are a couple examples:

• Béarnaise = shallots + tarragon + chervil + peppercorns + white wine vinegar + hollandaise
• Chantilly = whipped heavy cream + hollandaise

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks journey into the mother of all sauces, and their children. Next week? I think things are going to get a little sweet around here.