Before I got into the habit of scouring the internet for recipes to guide my cooking adventures, I relied on great recipe anthologies such as Escoffier’s ‘The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery’
. I still refer to Escoofier’s tome for sauce recipes, particularly foundation sauces, because they contain absolutely reliable proportions. This morning I consulted this well thumbed volume for the recipe for Sauce Hollandaise. I used his ingredient proportions, somewhat scaled back, but prefer a modern method of making this classic sauce that uses a blender. I do wonder what the father of modern French cusine would have thought of my method.
Let’s face it, hollandaise can be tricky. I am sure everyone who makes it will have an incident (split sauce, scrambled egg mouthfeel, fatty aftertaste) at some point. I make my hollandaise in a blender and it works for me, in that it produces a good product with little risk of incident. It may offend some traditionalist’s sensibilities, but I’m more interested in getting a quality home made product onto the plate. The only tip that I can give that applies to both the traditional method and my method, is that it is always easier to make a large volume than a small volume. The two egg recipe I give below is the smallest volume I would attempt to make.
To go under the poached eggs, I made a fresh batch of sourdough english muffins. Once again I used the recipe from Wild Yeast
but this time I made them a little more refined than the last batch
which had to be cooked on the barbeque because there was a power cut. These are doomed to become a standard in our house because they are easy to make and full of flavor.
Specialist equipment: blender
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Makes enough sauce for 4 portions.
2 Tbs water
1 Tbs vinegar (I prefer white wine)
fresh ground pepper
2 free-range egg yokes
200 g butter (melted)
Place the water, vinegar and a pinch each of the salt and pepper into a pot and reduce by half. Cool the reduction a little and place it and the egg yokes into the blender. If your yokes and reduction is lower than the blade, as it is in my blender, give them a little mix with a fork before starting. Swich the blender to a medium speed and slowly add the hot melted butter. This technique relies on the butter to cook the eggs, so the butter needs to be hot when it is addedd. About half way through, add a couple of drops of water. This helps ensure the sauce is light and has a nice mouthfeel. Add remaining butter, lemon juice to taste (I like my hollandaise quite piquant), salt and pepper.
If you are scaling up this recipe, retain the proportion of egg yoke to butter but decrease the relative volume of reduction. My blender can just hold four times this recipe without it coming flooding out the top.
Sauce hollandaise does not keep for long periods of time. It will, however, keep for a couple of hours in a warmish double boiler arrangement if topped with a cartouche. If you are just keeping it <20 min (the time it usually takes me to organize the rest of the meal) put the sauce hollandaise in a metal bowl or pot on the back of the stove (not on an element) and stir regularly to stop a skin from forming. The elevated ambient temperature in the vicinity of poaching eggs should stop the sauce from cooling too much.
I did not serve the eggs benedict in the traditional manner. Instead of ham (eggs Benedict), salmon (eggs Montreal) or spinach (eggs Florentine), we prefer alfalfa sprouts. Grown on our kitchen bench, they are crisp, fresh and go really well with the eggs.