Hollandaise sauce is very temperamental. If you get it too hot, the egg yolks will scramble. If you pour in the butter too fast, the sauce will split into a greasy, oily mess. However, do not fear! Honest to goodness hollandaise can sense fear. All you need to do is have faith in your sauce making abilities and everything will be fine and dandy. Truly it isn’t difficult, I will walk you through it so there is no way you can go wrong.
Brown Butter Hollandaise Sauce
– 1 egg yolk
– 1 tsp. lemon juice
– 1/4 to 1/3 cup melted butter (in this case I browned the butter first)
– salt to taste (if you want to season with pepper too, use white pepper so there aren’t ugly black flecks in your sauce)
First you are going to want to create a double boiler. Put about an inch of water in a pot and place a bowl on top (I prefer to use one that is fairly heat proof to help insulate the egg). In the bowl mix your egg yolk and lemon juice.
You want the heat to be fairly low. The water should be just below a simmer.
Start whisking away. It will be ready when the yolk has lightened in color and thickened into a custard-like consistency. This is called the ribbon stage. Literally if you lift up your whisk it should form ribbons.
As for the butter, it needs to be melted. I took it an extra step further by browning the butter as well. This is exactly what it sounds like. I cooked the butter in a pot over medium heat or so until it turned brown. The flavor and aroma take on a nuttiness that makes butter better than it already is. Just be careful that you don’t cook it too long or it will go from golden brown to black. And no one wants burned butter.
Then it is time for the butter and eggs to become one. It’s as simple as removing the bowl from the double boiler and pouring the melted butter into the thickened egg yolk. You just have to make sure that you do this VERY GRADUALLY while whisking CONSTANTLY. This allows the mixture time to emulsify into the thick, creamy hollondaise we all know and love. If you have ever made mayonnaise, it’s basically the same idea except it’s heated. Once the sauce is stable you can add in the butter more quickly. The more you add, the thicker it gets. If it happens to get too thick, just add in some cream to thin it out. All you have left to do is taste to see if it needs salt and pepper then voila, you have made it through the trials and tribulations of making a hollandaise. The more you make it, you can start experimenting. I have used different forms of acidity from lime juice to balsamic vinegar (this changes the color quite drastically…who would have thought?). You can also add different spices or herbs. The addition of finely minced tarragon makes it a “bernaise” sauce.
It’s great on steak, seafood or your classic eggs benny. The leftovers are especially good for dipping warm bread into. Really it’s glorified butter so it’s basically good on anything!