Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Classic Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise sauce is an example of a mother sauce. Meaning it has its own technique that is the basis for many possible variations. It's delicious, as is, but you can also build on it by adding a different acid or herb and get a whole new flavour profile. It is truly one of the quickest sauces, although you do have to mind it for the few minutes it takes to make it. It's also arguably the most delicious way to get lots of butter down your gullet, post-haste.

You'll need:
  • 1/2 cup good-quality unsalted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • A pinch each salt and white pepper

Remove 1 tablespoon of the butter and keep cold. In small saucepan, melt the remaining butter; keep warm and set aside. Technically, Hollandaise is made with clarified butter, but I'm not one for wasting and I don't mind using all parts of the melted butter one bit. Especially if I'm using good-quality butter that isn't full of water and impurities.

In a stainless steel bowl or in the top of a double-boiler (does anyone, except me, under the age of 60 actually have a double boiler anymore?), whisk the egg yolks until pale. Whisk in 1 tbsp. of the lemon juice and the water. Set the bowl or double-boiler top over saucepan of just-simmering water over medium-low heat; whisk until the yolk mixture starts to lightly cling to the whisk, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the reserved cold butter to stop the yolks from cooking.

Off the heat, dribble in the melted butter very slowly, whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken to consistency of a nice thick pancake batter. You can thin the sauce with a dribble of water if it's getting very thick. Season with salt, pepper and a little more lemon juice, if needed, for your desired amount of zing.

If you would like to make a Béarnaise sauce, start by bringing 3 tbsp each of tarragon vinegar and water and a finely minced shallot to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce until almost all the liquid is gone. Then continue with your recipe, using that dribble of reduced vinegar (straining out the shallots) in place of the lemon juice. Add a teaspoon of minced fresh tarragon to the finished sauce.

And you know what? Don't stop there... try other acid/herb combinations too, like lime and dill,  white balsamic and basil, or lemon and thyme. Go nuts!

Serve the Hollandaise (or your preferred derivative thereof) with a nice seared steak. Or grilled or poached fish. Or fresh steamed lobster, crab or shrimp. Or, spoon a blanket of it over softly poached eggs. Or smear it all over your body and have some lucky SOB lick it off.

This post is appearing as a part of the Two for Tuesday Blog Hop. There's lotsa great recipes in that thar link. Click it!


  1. Okay, I'm a drooling mess over here. Hollandaise and Bearnaise are like crack! (only opposite, I suppose...they plump ya up while crack wears you down...anyway). Seriously, there's nothing like a fresh hollandaise. Back when I used to work on the line, we'd make it fresh for service nightly and we'd sneak stray fries or a steak that was "accidentally" cooked wrong and dip em in whichever variation of the mother was on the menu that season. Ummm...memories. Thanks for sharing with Two for Tuesdays...and reminding me how long it's been since I've actually had any!! ;)

  2. Nice! I'm always happy when I remind someone to dip something into a butter sauce. :)

  3. I will take some every which way please. Oh the amazingness of a real Hollandaise! Thanks so much for sharing this at Two for Tuesdays!

  4. I am laughing at heather's comments, but they ARE true! Creamy dreamy sauces are the stuff well, dreams are made of! Thanks so much for sharing this on the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! :) alex@amoderatelife

  5. Truth be told, I'd probably lick hollandaise off of my shoe if a drip fell there. Is there a heaven? Oh yes, and it tastes like hollandaise - the perfect marriage of all of my favorite foods - butter, egg yolks, and lemon. Help me mommy, my knees are shaking! Thank you for reminding me that I gotta have a fix and linking up to T4T.