Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Emulsion: a mixture of 2 or more inblendable ingredients

The last week has been consumed with my attempts to make the classic mother sauces from memory...mid-term next week. New favorite, Hollandaise (insert Madonna's "Holidays" song here..."Hollandaise")
I'm still amazed by this sauce...a true emulsion...egg yolks suspended in clarified butter...a most temperamental sauce. Temperature is EVERYTHING on this one. I've only tried to make it twice now, but I'm told it likes to make a fool of you when you least expect it. Here's the how to:
Clarify the butter (boiling & swirling to remove the milk fat solids). You need 2oz. clarified butter for every 1 egg yolk.
Make the reduction: 3 oz white wine, 1 oz cider vinegar, 1 1/2 oz. water, 1 tsp cracked black pepper, 2 TBS shallots. Reduce until almost dry...about 5 minutes.
Beat the egg yolks in a bowl and pour in (while whisking!) the slightly cooled reduction. Place the reduction & egg yolks over a double boiler (indirect heat here, people). Whisk & turn the bowl (1/4 turn), repeat. The mixture will begin to thicken as it cooks...keep whisking & turning. Once thickened, swirl in the clarified butter (clarified butter has less milk fat, and therefore a higher smoking point than regular butter), 1/3 at a time, until fully incorporated. Sauce should be slightly thickened and very flavorful...served at 120F or above. This sauce is very temp. sensitive and should be stored @ 135 F and only for a few hours (egg yolks held slightly above the danger zone temp...don't keep this one for too long!). This a sauce in which technique is paramount...too much temp...the eggs cook (scrambled eggs are bad here), too little (a weak, watery sauce). Season with lemon juice, salt, white pepper, Tabasco (I will always suggest cholulah here!), and a garnish of paprika. If the sauce is too hot, it will break (BAD!). This means that the egg & the fat have heated to the point of looks gross, and it is! If this should happen, whisk the hollandaise into the hot water (not the other way around!) until the two become friends again. This time, I served the Hollandaise with English muffins, prosciutto, and poached eggs = Eggs Benedict.
I'm still amazed by this sauce (no wonder it is finicky!)...the marriage of two things that are reputed not to belong together, and yet...the most delicious thing ever! I've had Hollandaise @ my favorite places for years, but now, the LBistro has the best :)

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