~ The Big Easy: Making Blender Hollandaise Sauce ~
My love and enthusiasm for French food and cooking in the style of France has spanned almost four decades. When time permits, I have no problem spending eight hours or the better part of two days doing whaever it takes to make something superb. That said, when I find a shortcut way of doing anything that causes me no compromise in flavor and texture, I am like the proud pig who just dug up the world's largest truffle. Blender hollandaise is one such example.
A bit about hollandaise sauce: Hollandaise is one of the five famous Mother Sauces of France: bechemel, veloute, espagnole, tomate and hollandaise. Each one is said to be "the head of its own sauce family", because from each one, other sauces can be made. Hollandaise came late to the party, having been added by Chef Auguste Escoffier in the 20th century. I love them all, I know how to make all of them, and, I'm addressing each one, as my need for it occurs here on KE (just click on the Related Article link below to learn ~ How to: Make a Classic Bechamel Sauce ~. Vinaigrette is wisely and widely-accepted as a modern-day sixth mother sauce.
Today's attention is on hollandaise. I must say, I find hollandaise (and my favorite spinoff of it, bearnaise) to be the most finicky. Like the other mother sauces, it is a liquid combined with a thickening agent and some flavoring (liquid + thickener + flavoring = sauce), but, unlike the others, it is made by vigorously whisking clarified butter (a fat) into warmed egg yolks in the top of a double boiler. Voila: The perfect emulsification -- the perfect butter sauce. Voila in reverse: One wrong move or momentary lapse in judgement and you're screwed -- you've got scrambled eggs or a broken, greasy mess. I'm not perfect. I've done it. I know.
I stopped being a martyr over hollandaise over a decade ago!
The past is the past -- let bygones be bygones. Change comes slow to some -- I am one such person. It took one of my chef friends to pull me out of the dark ages on this one. He laughingly explained that no busy restaurant can afford to waste time having someone standing around hand-whisking hollandaise all day -- it's what blenders, stick-blenders and food processors are for. As a gal who's been making her mayo in a food processor for over two decades, this should have occurred to me own my own -- a no-brainer, an ah-ha moment. The plain-as-day truth is: mayonnaise and hollandaise are nearly identical in structure -- they're kissing cousins!
3 large eggs, separate while cold
Cover the yolks with plastic wrap and allow them to come to room temperature, about 45-60 minutes. Cover and refrigerate the white for another use -- allow me to suggest an egg white omelette.
Note: All eggs are easier to separate if you do it while they are cold -- right out of the refrigerator.
8 tablespoons salted butter (1 stick)
placing it in a saucepan or butter warmer. Note: I prefer the butter warmer because it has a pourer spout on the side which makes for a mess free transfer to the blender.
Set butter cubes aside, with the egg yolks to come to room temperature, about 45-60 minutes.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne or white pepper, your choice
Set aside until yolks and butter are at their proper temperatures. While your waiting get out your blender...
... or, in my case, a 20-year old mini-food processor with a 2-cup capacity. I love this little appliance. It is just perfect for processing small batches of almost anything: mayo, salad dressings and/or sauces!
~ Step 4. Melt the butter over extremely low heat. Even if you have to keep lifting the saucepan on and off the stovetop to control the heat, do everything in your power to keep the butter from bubbling or simmering. If butter starts out at room temperature, this will take a short 30-45 seconds. Set aside for about 2 minutes.
~ Step 5. Place the egg yolks in the blender or in the mini-food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg, cayenne and salt mixture. Put the lid on and process for a full 2 minutes. The mixture will be light in color and slightly-thickened (due to the fact that air was just incorporated into it for 2 minutes).
~ Step 6. With the motor running, begin adding the warm, melted butter. Normally, when making an emulsion for a salad dressing, I would tell you to add this, the emulsifying agent, in a thin, steady stream, but this is even less than that. The best way for me to describe it is: add the butter in a thin stream in dribs and drabs. A thin stream, in about 10-15 small increments, giving it time to process for 5-10 seconds after each addition. This process will take about 2 minutes too, and, at the end, you will have created the perfect hollandaise sauce.
Use your hollandaise immediately, or, place it in a 1-cup food storage container, cover it, and, set it aside to use within 2-3 hours. If you want to make your hollandaise a day in advance, that's fine too. Place the covered container in the refrigerator overnight. Just return it to room temperature (this will take about an hour), then, give it 1-2-3 short 10-15-second stints in the microwave over low power, stirring gently in between -- just warm it to above room temperature, NOT, to steaming hot.
2-3 tablespoons finely-minced shallots, and 1 tablespoon dried tarragon to the butter cubes. Melt butter as directed and proceed!
Introducing: Mel's Over-the-Top but Very Easy Eggs Benedict:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; paring knife; small saucepan or butter warmer; blender or mini-food processor; small spatula; 1-cup food storage container w/lid or plastic wrap
Cook's Note: To learn ~ How to: Make Homemade Mayonnaise ("Mayo") ~ the way I do (quick, easy and stress free), click into Categories 8, 15 or 20. Homemade is always better than bought, and, like blender hollandaise, all you have to do is make it once to realize what a treat you've been missing!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)