Thursday, August 13, 2009

Holy Hollandaise, Batman!

So, if you're like me, an inexperienced yet ambitious aspiring recreational chef, prone to overuse of clauses and adjectives, then you've been hankering to make that most wonderful of all egg dishes, the decadent Eggs Benedict, yes, you have, haven't you?

Except for the sauce, doesn't sound too hard, does it?
  • Toast an English muffin? Check!
  • Fry up some bacon? Check!
  • Poach an egg? (Boil some water, swirl it with a spoon and drop an egg in for a minute) Check!
  • Whip up some hollandaise sauce? Ch- (wait . . . what? . . . oh . . . you said holllllllandaaaaiiiiiseee. Hm . . . um . . . yeah . . . how about just some eggs, toast and bacon?)
Well, fear no more. Hollandaise, believe it or not, is quite easy, and takes mere minutes.

Now, before I learned this, my image of making hollandaise was poor Leah at the end of the previous season of Top Chef, valiantly whisking away while a friend slowly poured melted butter in a thin stream into her pot. Two people to make a sauce? Whisking so fast your arm might fall off? A sauce so hard it stresses out a professional chef? Um, no, I think I'll pass.

Luckily for me, I eventually took "Techniques of Fine Cooking 2" at the Institute for Culinary Education in Chelsea, and, learning at the knee of Chef Anita Jacobson, I found out that it just ain't that tough. No need for that troublesome tag team pouring melted butter into a thin stream stuff. Nope, just dice up your butter into manageable squares, and sling it into your sauce bit by bit, slowly incorporating it all as you whisk away.

So, for a nice amount of sauce that will cover you for 4 servings, try this:

Hollandaise Sauce
  • 3/4 Stick Butter, Diced (Check out this video here of a laser and a pressurized water jet cutting through butter. Groovy.)
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 Egg Yolks (Yolks, I say! Be sure to separate them from the gooey clear stuff. I had a really bad experience making chocolate mousse with chucks of egg whites in it once. Blech!)
  • Salt n Pepa (Remember Push It? Duh, duh-nuh duh, duh-duh)
  1. Dice up the butter.
  2. Fashion yerself a double boiler. Grab a metal bowl. Put it on top of a small pot. You did it! Fill the pot with an inch of water. Get it to a slow simmer.
  3. Put the lemon juice, vinegar, and yolks in the bowl. Put the bowl on top of the simmering pot.
  4. Grab a whisk and go at it on the egg mixture in the bowl. After a few minutes it should look nice and frothy. Keep a close eye on the eggs to make sure that you don't start seeing scrambled eggs, if you do, turn the heat down and whisk faster.
  5. Start chucking bits of butter into the sauce, a little at a time. Whisk until the butter is fully incorporated, then do some more. The sauce should be nice and thick by now.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste, and, voila! Hollandaise! You did it!
If you're not ready to serve, just keep it over the pot (with the heat turned off) or somewhere warm so the sauce does not separate. This kind of sauce is an emulsion, and emulsions do not like to stay together, so keep it warm or it will separate.

Also goes great on asparagus. Bruce Wayne told me so.

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