Hollandaise 101

Hollandaise sauce, perhaps best known in the United States as the yellow stuff drenched on eggs Benedict, is the last of the five French mother sauces. The name gives a nod to the Netherlands, a country famous for high-quality butter and eggs. Auguste Escoffier put hollandaise on the list of mother sauces, making it the most recent addition to the five. Hollandaise is an emulsified sauce, which presents one of the main challenges for the average cook, as it takes some practice to keep the sauce from separating. Hollandaise also requires paying close attention to cooking temperature. Though hollandaise sauce has a reputation for being tricky, it can be easily made at home as an accompaniment to a large breakfast or cooked vegetables. Learn classic French cooking techniques so you can add this sauce to your culinary repertoire.

Hollandaise sauce

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) clarified butter, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Use a small, thick ceramic bowl set in a heavy-bottomed pan, or a heavyweight double boiler. Off the heat, put the egg yolks and cream in the bowl or upper section of the double boiler and stir with a wire whisk until well-blended – the mixture should never be beaten, but rather stirred evenly, vigorously and continually. Place the container over hot water (if you are setting the bowl in water, there should be about 1 1/2 inches of water in the pan; in a double boiler, the water should not touch the top section). Stirring the eggs continuously, slowly bring the water to a simmer. Do not let it boil. Keep stirring and be sure to incorporate the entire mixture so there is no film at the bottom. When the eggs have thickened to the consistency of very heavy cream, begin to add the cooled melted butter with one hand, stirring vigorously with the other. Pour extremely slowly so that each addition is blended into the egg mixture before more is added. When all the butter has been mixed in, add the lemon juice or vinegar a drop at a time and immediately remove from heat. Add salt and a dash of cayenne to finish it off.

(Recipe from epicurious.com)

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