Hollandaise

January 15, 2009

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again — and I have.  I was making eggs florentine for my family(using a different recipe) and the sauce broke twice before it works.  However, this recipe has never failed me(yet).

Theory

I think there are a couple key points to making a good hollandaise: the egg needs to be cooked just the right amount, the butter needs to be at the right temperature and the right equipment.

For equipment, a metal bowl is nice because it has a very small heat capacity, so you can quickly control the temperature of the eggs as you are whipping it.

The eggs should be cooked until it just begins to thicken — cook it too much and you get scrambled eggs.  Cook it too little, and it is pretty watery and slimy, like a beaten egg yolk (big surprise).   I like to add all the wet ingredients in at the beginning and cook everything at once (rather than adding water / lemon juice as the eggs are cooking) because it’s less hassle and the consistency doesn’t keep changing each time you add more liquid, which makes determining when to stop difficult.

The butter needs to be at the right temperature.  Too hot, and it will fry the eggs when you pour it in.  Too cold and it will solidify while you try to stir it in.  I don’t think it really matters whether you use clarified butter or just melt the entire stick.  With clarified butter, you need to add a little more water.

Ingredients

(serves two)

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp water
  • cayenne pepper and salt to taste

Melt butter in saucepan — it is done when it just begins to bubble, turn the flame down low enough to keep it warm.

Put yolk, lemon juice and water in metal bowl.  Hold over (~10cm above) open gas burner set on low and beat continuously until the egg just begins to thicken.  If it the mixure starts to cook too fast, you can pull it away from the flame and wisk vigorously to cool it.

Take bowl off flame, and slowly drizzle in warm butter while beating.  Don’t add it too fast or the mixture may separate.

Add cayenne and salt to taste.  The sauce will keep for about an hour — you can rewarm it slightly by stirring it with the over a low flame.

As a note, when you are cooking the eggs, unless you are very diligent and continously scrape down the side of the bowl, there inevitably will be a crust of overcooked eggs on the side.  Just ignore it and it avoid incorporating it into the sauce when you whip in the butter.

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