Hollandaise

Courtesy of Jen Jackson
Photography by Jenna Noel

The final mother sauce tastes best with fresh, high-quality eggs. Because butter is equally important to the hollandaise, use an unsalted, quality butter like Plugrá or Organic Valley. In classic French cooking, we clarify the butter for hollandaise—which means cooking the butter until the milk solids separate and can be skimmed and discarded. But I often skip this step and just melt the butter in exchange for baking fresh English muffins for eggs Benedict. No one ever complains.

Fairly difficult

Hollandaise

Ingredients

For 1 Batch(es)

Cream

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 8 ounces butter, clarified
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Salt, to taste
  • 1 Lemon juice, to taste

Hollandaise Directions

  1. Put the vinegar and peppercorns in a small pan and reduce to about a half-tablespoon. Strain out peppercorns and let the liquid cool.
  2. Clarify the butter by putting chunks of the cold butter in a saucepan on medium heat. As the butter melts, the water in the butter will evaporate and the white milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pot. When this happens, turn off the heat, ladle off or pour out the yellow butterfat into another pot and keep warm. Discard the milk solids.
  3. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Put the egg yolks in a stainless steel mixing bowl that fits on top of the saucepan. Whisk the cooled vinegar into the yolks and put the mixing bowl on the hot water saucepan. Whisk the yolks until they thicken to foamy and frothy but not scrambled—about 1 minute.
  4. Take the bowl off of the heat and, drop by drop at first, add the clarified butter while whisking the yolks. As the sauce thickens, slightly increase the rate to a few drops at a time. Once the sauce is at the desired consistency (not all of the butter may be needed), adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice. Hollandaise is best served fresh and warm.
  5. Hollandaise may break or separate into an oily, chunky liquid if the butter is added too fast. This happens all of the time in professional kitchens, too, so just grab a clean, stainless steel mixing bowl and, off of the heat, add a couple of teaspoons of cold water to the bowl. Then slowly (drop by drop at first), whisk in the broken hollandaise. Breaking and fixing a hollandaise becomes a rite of passage for most professional cooks, but if you fix the sauce and it tastes delicious, we can start talking about making those English muffins.

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