Serious Eats: Recipes

Sauced: Hollandaise

Taking another step on the trail of French mother sauces, I tried my hand at Hollandaise. The emulsion of egg yolks and butter possibly originated as early as the 17th century, when it was brought to France by the Huguenots. Later it became known as "Sauce Isigny" after the northern coastal French town famous for their butter.

After doing some background research on procedures and recipes, my head was swimming—clarified vs. regular butter, saucepan vs. double broiler, lemon juice or not, and so much more. Oh, and Anthony Bourdain's blunt statement in Les Halles Cookbook that novices should expect failure didn't help.

Finally, I just went for it.

While I came out with an extremely tired arm—I wanted to go classic to start, but next time I'll probably turn to the blender—I also had an excellent sauce that didn't seem like it should be beyond anybody.

As long as the eggs are kept moving constantly over a low, gentle heat and the butter is added slowly to create a stable emulsion, this creamy, rich, and tangy sauce should come out every time, ready to top Eggs Benedict or beautifully dress a plate of asparagus.

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

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