Monday, 13 February 2012

Hollandaise Sauce

My black pepper spotted hollandaise

 Something you will only order of a breakfast menu somewhere fancy? You need not be scared to try it at home. There are only 3 ingredients required, how hard can it possibly be? Well there are a few basic rules to follow and they follow scientific principles - which I love. So today I'm letting you all in on my hollandaise recipe with some suggestions on how to use it. I swear you will become a pro and it's sure to jazz up breakfast on a weekend/impress guests.

 I usually make this for Mr ToothFairy on a weekend, he brings out the puppy dog eyes and i'm a weakling for that. On a better note, I made this for my parents yesterday morning on an impromptu visit to stay with them last weekend. They were really surprised at how simple it was to make; so astounded was my mother that she over cooked the poached eggs. No hard feelings, Mum..hard yolks though.

So the hollandaise is one of the 5 mother sauces, the bases of all sauces, it's primarily a butter sauce. Another sauce using hollandaise as the base would be the Bearnaise - you add shallots, chervil (or a mild parsley will do) and tarragon - and that's a primary sauce for steaks - yum. So getting to know your mother sauces is quite helpful and enables you to pretty much make a sauce for any occasion.

This will make enough for 2 servings, or 1 person with it piled on.

You'll be requiring:

1 egg yolk
Lemon juice - from a fresh lemon or bottled lemon juice
50g butter - melted

Salt & Pepper to season

 Now, there are a few things to set up before you get all excited. You'll need to construct a bain marie; thats a pan with an inch or so of boiling water, sit a bowl on top and make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Done. You'll need a separate bowl and a whisk. That's the equipment sorted.

 First off, add the 50g of butter to the bain marie and let it melt. If you're using real butter you'll get a white sediment at the bottom which are the milk fats. The stuff on top is clarified butter. Clarified butter is brilliant in other things too like sauteeing potatoes to make hash browns - it has a higher smoking point than regular butter. Also if you or your guests are lactose intolerant, clarified butter has negligible amount of lactose in. So you can use just the clarified butter or mix it up and use all of it - it's up to you.

Next, while the butter is melting, whisk your egg yolk in the clean bowl. Get it so it goes a bit paler, maybe a few bubbles, that'd be perfect. Now add about 10 drops of lemon to start. This will acidify the egg yolk and start to cook it a little. Whisk again, you should notice a slight change in texture, a bit of a shine develops too. That's the 'emulsion' bit done.

Take your butter and drizzle it into the emulsion whilst whisking constantly. You can use a dessert spoon or table spoon so you're not holding a hot bowl and trying to pour it in. The whisking doesn't need to be excessively vigorous, but you need to have a good go at it - you don't want pools of butter to be sitting in the sauce at any point. Just don't be tempted to throw it all in at once and whisk and expect it to mix.

Now this is the time where people get their knickers in a twist because this is the pivotal point where it could all go wrong. There's really no need to panic. It's dead simple. 
Here are the two principles: If you keep your bowl with egg yolk emulsion too hot and add hot butter, they won't mix and your mixture will 'split' - you'll know when it has split too. If your bowl is too cold your mixture will set hard (because butter sets when it cools) and your sauce will congeal in the whisk. Many recipes ask you to put the bowl with the emulsion on the bain marie to warm it up but you definitely risk splitting the sauce so I don't recommend it unless your bowl is getting cold and the sauce is setting. You can stick it on to warm it up a bit then. As I discovered when things went a bit awry yesterday, granite worktops absorb heat quickly and your sauce WILL set quickly too. Don't work on granite - just keep the bowl at room temp. My sauce was saved though by heating it up a little on the bain marie, in case you were wondering. 

Once all of your butter has been included you have a hollandaise. It's really that easy.

Have a taste, you can still add extra drops of lemon if you like it a bit more zingy - I sure do. Add your salt and pepper to taste. Traditionally white pepper is used but that's only for looks, I don't mind the black speckles.

Things to use your new-found Hollandaise skills on:

Well of course the traditional is Eggs Benedict: English muffin with ham, poached egg and hollandaise. You'll see our variation below with toast, bacon and poached egg.

For the veggies there is the Eggs Fiorentine: English muffin with wilted spinach, poached egg and holandaise. It's delicious. Or my version Huevos Rancheros - muffin or tortilla with avocado, tomato salsa, poached egg and hollandaise.

And for the fish fans there is Eggs Atlantic/Hemingway/Royale - you'll find it a lot in Australia - is salmon or smoked salmon replacing the ham or spinach in the traditional Eggs Bene.

Basically you can put anything between the muffin/toast and the with hollandaise and it's a winner.

Also very popular is hollandaise on asparagus or new potatoes. It really is delicious too. A personal fave is Jerusalem artichoke and hollandaise...i'm drooling.

Our version of an Eggs Bene, with miscellaneous other items that needed eating
and got chucked on Mr TF's plate - please don't judge him.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on!

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