Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sauce Hollandaise: Pour la Darcette

Darcy tweeted the other day that she was going to be cooking up some Julia Childs' recipes and thus also learning some French.
Here is a tried and true recipe for la sauce hollandaise, or as we call it chez moi, œuf sauce, or butter still: lardendaise sauce.  The recipe was taken from a book called Les Sauces, which is a compendium of nearly every sauce known to French cooking:

1 & 1/3 stick butter
3 egg yolks (throw the whites away or feed them to your dog)
2 Tbls water or dry white wine
1/4 tsp white pepper
ca. 2 Tbl lemon juice

Melt the butter in a pan then set aside (a microwave is fine too-just get it hot enough to melt).

Mix the egg yolks and the water or wine in a separate pan (I use a double boiler and this pan serves as a place to keep the sauce when finished). Whisk the yolks and the wine with one of those wire whips just until the yolks begin to thicken. This is why harsh direct heat should be avoided (they are worth having if you make lots of sauces). At this point, begin adding the melted butter little by little all while whisking. Add the lemon juice, pepper and a dash of salt according to taste.

If the sauce crashes (separates into oil and solids) remove from the heat immediately. It is sometimes possible to save the sauce by adding more white wine: the ethanol in the wine acts as an emulsifier, helping to mix the oil from the butter with the protein/water from the egg.

This recipe makes enough for 4 people on a diet. Scale accordingly.

bon appetit!


  1. Hollandaise! Mmmmmm!

    I went to chef school decades ago, at night after the usual work day. I thought that chopping a bushel of veggies into fine particles every night would work off the frustrations of having been dumped by a woman I was dating.

    Turned out to be a great deal of work, and a hell of a lot of fun. I never worked as a chef. My home has been the preferred venue for family gatherings for a long time.

    Hollandaise came first and is considered the mother of the warm emulsified sauces. Béarnaise is the best known and certainly best loved variation.

    Béarnaise sauce substitutes vinegar for the water, and adds shallots, tarragon, chervil, and (sometimes) parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. It is most often served with grilled meat or fish.

    Among the variations of hollandaise are Mousseline Sauce (with cream added), Maltaise Sauce (with orange juice and zest), Mikado Sauce (with tangerine juice and zest), mustard sauce (with white mustard). There are also versions with horseradish, anchovies, or capers. Among the descendants of béarnaise sauce are Choron Sauce (with tomato), Valois Sauce (with veal stock), and Paloise Sauce (with mint instead of tarragon).

    You'll probably "break" the sauce the first time you make it. It will still taste good, but won't look very appealing. Breaking the sauce means that it separated, as El Pollo pointed out.

    It can be repaired if it breaks. Heat a tablespoon or two of cream in a fresh pan; slowly whisk in the broken sauce over low heat. Presto fixo!

    Reading any book by Julia Child is a good way to start cooking. So is watching the food channel and experiment with what you've seen.

    My favorite French cook book is the classic Escoffier Cook Book. Not difficult, but properly detailed.

    Jacques Pepin's books are the gold standard. Try La Technique as a start.

    Happy dining! Don't get all micro-managey about recipes; just use good ingredients and go for it.

  2. Wow! I did miss this. Was really busy at work. You guys are amazing. And I've tried to make hollandaise sauce before because I love it? But I wasn't successful.

    Going to try this!! *hugs*

  3. I want to try making hollandaise with cayenne pepper instead of white pepper sometime just for the heat value.

  4. Darcy, one way to "cheat" is to use a blender. You can put the melted butter in first and use the heat of the butter to cook the egg yolks just enough. I've never done it myself but I've tasted the result and it's OK.

    One think is for sure: hollandaise packaged mixes suck big time as do restaurants which use them (and I can always taste the difference).