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Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce
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Hollandaise Sauce 

Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk and liquid butter, usually seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich and buttery, with a mild tang added by an acidic component such as lemon juice, yet not so strong as to overpower mildly-flavored foods.

Hollandaise is one of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine mother sauce repertoire. It is so named because it was believed to have mimicked a Dutch sauce for the King of the Netherlands' state visit to France.

Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient of Eggs Benedict, and is often paired with vegetables such as steamed asparagus.

Prepration of Hollandaise Sauce:

Hollandaise requires some skill and practice to prepare. Properly made, it will be smooth and creamy with no hint of separation. The flavor will be rich and buttery, with a mild tang from the lemon juice. It is best prepared and served warm, but not hot. There are several methods for preparing a Hollandaise sauce. All methods require near-constant agitation, usually with a wire whisk.

One family of methods involves acidifying the egg yolks to aid in the formation of an emulsion, either with lemon juice or vinegar. Escoffier uses a reduction of vinegar and water. Others use lemon juice or sherry. The acidified yolks are whisked gently over simmering water until they thicken and lighten in color. Then, as with a mayonnaise, the emulsion is formed by very slowly whisking melted butter into it. Use of clarified butter is common. Some varieties of this preparation use water of various volumes and temperatures.

Alton Brown espouses quite a different method. The yolks, without acid, are cooked as above. Then the upper pan is removed from heat and cold cubed butter is whisked in, a few cubes at a time. The emulsion forms as the cubes melt. The pan is returned to heat only when the emulsion cools too much to melt more cubes. Lemon is used as a finishing flavor. This method takes more time than traditional methods, but is more reliable in that it is difficult to overheat the forming emulsion.

The above methods are known as "bain marie methods". Another family of methods uses a blender. Yolks are placed in a blender, then at a temperature higher than appropriate for bain marie methods butter is drizzled into the blender. Heat from the butter cooks the yolks. Blender methods are much quicker, although temperature control is difficult. The products of blender methods may be acceptable, but are generally considered to be inferior to the products of bain marie methods.

Note that in all methods the temperature must be closely controlled. Too much heat and the yolks will curdle or an emulsion break. Too little heat and an emulsion will fail to form, or, will solidify. Once the yolks are prepared, the sauce should be not much warmer than required to maintain the butter in a liquid state, that is, a little warmer than body temperature. 

A finished sauce may be "held" in its emulsified state for several hours by keeping it warm. Success with freezing Hollandaise has been reported, but it is not widely practiced.

A normal ratio of ingredients is 1 egg yolk : 4-6 Tbs. (55g-85g) butter. Flavorings may include lemon juice and salt to taste.

Read More at Wikipedia
Recipe for Hollandaise Sauce:  Link 1    Link 2   Link 3

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