Hollandaise is a sauce that has gotten a scary reputation over the years. When I was a young culinary student years ago this was one of the first things I had to prepare that really made me nervous. There is a science to making this sauce and everything must be done exactly so, at exactly the right time. Make one little error and you have something that looks like, well, polite words cant describe what a wrongly made Hollandaise looks like. You have also wasted ingredients, time and effort. And the worst thing? You still have no wonderful hollandaise to go along with your Poached Salmon, Steamed Asparagus or Eggs Benedict.
The following ingredients will be needed to make around 1 cup of Hollandaise. To guarantee high levels of success I do not recommend trying to double this recipe. Make the recipe twice if more Hollandaise is needed.
1.25 Sticks of Butter
Melt the butter gently over low heat. Once better is melted transfer it to any type of storage container and place it covered in the refrigerator overnight. This is the first step to making Hollandaise.
3 Each, Large Egg Yolks
1.5 Tablespoons of Cold Water
You will need a pot of gently simmering water and a metal bowl that will fit securely in the pot but not be sitting down in the water, you are trying to create a double burner effect. You will also need a wire whisk and a dry side towl. Also have handy the container that you will be serving the sauce in or holding the sauce in until you need it.
Take the previously melted butter from the refrigerator and with the handle of a kitchen spoon, poke several holes in the butter. You will notice pure butter fat sitting above a milky liquid. The butter has separated from fat and liquid overnight. You have made what Professional Chefs call Clarified Butter. Gently pour the water from the solid butter fat into the sink. Take the remaining pure butter fat and melt it in a pan, do not get it too hot. Idealy you will want it at around 110 degrees in temperature when you make the Hollandaise. You can take the temperature of the butter with a kitchen thermometer if you wish but I suggest after you melt the butter waiting about five minutes or so. After that five minutes the butter should be just right.
Whisk the three egg yolks and the water in a metal kitchen bowl. Place the bowl over the steaming water(double boiler set up) and whisk constantly until the eggs began to change in color from their raw egg color to slightly yellow. This will take about three minutes. If you feel that the bowl is getting to hot, remove it with your kitchen towl for a few seconds but keep whisking! You are trying to cook the eggs into a a light yellow, ribbon like substance. If you start to see any scrambling of the yolks, stop and began the process again with new yolks and new water.
Off the heat begin to incorporate the melted butter very slowly into the yolks, whisking vigorously. You want to start adding the butter in a slow stream, little by little, whisking it into the yolks to incorporate it before you add more butter. This part is tricky as if you add too much butter at once or do not whisk with enough effort you will not incorporate the butter into the eggs correctly and end up with a broken sauce that we chefs refer to by names that are not polite to mention.
As the mixture begins to thicken up you can add the butter with a little less worry but continue to whisk, whisk, whisk!
Once the sauce is completed it is necessary to season it. Hollandaise is a thick, rich sauce that needs the addition of a little bit of salt, and a dash of lemon juice. Some people put a dash of hot sauce into the Hollandaise after it is completed. I would advise not using hot sauce if you are going to use the Hollandaise to accompany Poached Salmon or Vegetables like Broccolli or Asparagus. On things like Poached Eggs, a dash of hot sauce would be a lovely addition.
Season the sauce with just a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Transfer the sauce to the container you will be serving it in or holding it in. I recommend warming the container with a little bit of hot water first so that when you put the warm sauce into the container it will not cool down as rapidly as if you put it into a cold container. Hollandaise is not a hot sauce and by its nature will separate(the eggs and butter emulsion will break) if it gets much higher than 120 degrees. For this reason the following is extremely important.
For reasons of food safety always use Hollandaise within an hour of making it. To keep it warm find a warm place, such as the top of the stove to store it until use. Be sure to keep it covered as well. Leftover Hollandaise should be discarded. It cannot be saved, refrigerated or reused the next day.
So what if you dont do everything right and end up with butter floating on top of scrambled eggs? Well start again, practice makes perfect. There is a way that we Professional Chefs use to fix a broken Hollandaise. That will be the subject of my next post about food and cooking! Enjoy Cooking! Eat well! Go make a great Hollandaise! It will really impress everyone!