The Basics- Hollandaise Sauce
Julia Child calls this one of the Mother sauces. I love Hollandaise, probably because it’s a crucial component for my favorite meal, Eggs Benedict and right there with that is asparagus with Hollandaise. It’s creamy, buttery, citrusy, I could almost drink it, well not really but I do really like it. The classic method of preparation is to whisk over a double boiler which is how the recipe will be written here. I can’t always be bothered to do this and I take a shortcut, blender Hollandaise, pouring the hot butter into a whirring blender or food processor (much like the mayonnaise) the hot butter heats the yolks and is blended into a delicious creamy thick sauce.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups
3 egg yolks
big pinch of salt
1 tbs lemon juice ( I like it very citrusy so I add some lemon zest also)
2 tbs cold unsalted butter
2 sticks ( 8 oz) unsalted butter melted
salt and pepper to taste
Beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk in a stainless steel saucepan for a minute or two until they thicken lightly and turn lemon colored. Whisk in the salt and lemon juice and add 1 tbs cold butter. Set over moderate low heat and whisk continuously at moderate speed. remove pan from heat now and then to make sure the yolks aren’t cooking too fast. When they cling to the wires of the whisk and you can see the pan between strokes, remove from heat and stir in the 2nd tbs of cold butter. Start beating in the melted butter by little dribblets at first, until a good 1/2 cup of the sauce has thickened, then add the rest of the melted butter a little more quickly as the sauce thickens into the consistency of heavy cream. Taste and correct seasoning.
I cut corners because I cannot really hand whisk so I thought why not try a blender or food processor. It comes together in minutes and works well. I whiz the egg yolks, lemon, lemon zest and salt until light and creamy, now add the 2 tbs of cold butter and whiz together and drizzle in the melted butter with the blender or processor running, stop when thick and creamy. If you have leftover sauce, refrigerate no more than a day or two and heat GENTLY in double boiler.
If you have added the butter too fast for the egg yolks to digest it, or if you’ve kept the sauce over heat too long, it can thin out or separate. To bring back to a creamy state, whisk briefly to blend and add a tablespoon into a bowl, whisk in a tbs of lemon juice and whisk vigorously until creamy. Now whisk in very little dribbles of the turned sauce gradually increasing the amount until is is all creamed and has reconstituted.
Bernaise Sauce with steak is one of lifes great pleasures. It is basically hollandaise with some vinegar, shallot and taragon. To make Bernaise to a small saucepan add 1/4 cup white wine vinegar and 1/4 cup white wine, 1 tbs minced shallot, 1/2 tsp dried tarragon, 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until it reduces to 2 tbs. Use this in place of the lemon juice and reduce the butter to 1 1/2 sticks. Optional add chopped fresh tarragon at the end.