I was pretty excited when Jen at My Kitchen Addiction started Kitchen Bootcamp this month! She has chosen the book The Professional Chef and will select a chapter each month for us to “study”.
As soon as I had my hands on the book, I eagerly skimmed through to find a sauce that’s a little bit my nemesis – hollandaise! According to TPC, “the success or failure of the sauce depends not only on skillfully combining egg yolks, water, acid and butter into a rich, smooth sauce, but also on the quality of the butter itself.”
Hollandaise is a great sauce to master because “a number of similar warm egg emulsion sauces [...] can be prepared by varying the ingredients in the reduction or by adding different finishing and garnishing ingredients such as tarragon. The group included béarnaise, choron, and mousseline sauces.” It’s also notoriously tricky!
I was absolutely ecstatic to have brought home some farm fresh eggs from my culinary tour of Stratford the previous day:
And check out the colour of those yolks!!! (no, not digitally enhanced!)
I was so excited to be working on the hollandaise this weekend because Neil was returning from a couple of days away and I wanted to make him one of his favourite dishes for dinner: Eggs Benedict.
Unbeknownst to me, he had made FIFTY Eggs Benedicts that very morning (working at a charity weekend for his Rotary club) so when he arrived home, he donned his apron again and proceeded to give ME a tutorial.
He read the recipe from TPC and decided we didn’t need the reduction of vinegar/ wine and cracked peppercorns and showed me his way. It was interesting to watch someone work (without a recipe) on something that I had spent a long time reading up on. What he was doing (i.e. the science of it) made more sense because I had researched thoroughly and watching it in action made it seem so do-able. Neil showed me the steps and then made me take over (actually having two people is so much better for this sauce – helps when you are adding the butter and the lemon juice so that the whisking can continue.)
We actually had a hard time getting the egg yolks to become frothy like they are supposed to – these farm fresh babies are SO creamy already!
Isn’t it beautiful?
And Neil showed me the technique where you hold the bowl over the simmering water for a few seconds whilst you whisk:
And then you lift it up to release the steam a little so the egg yolks don’t cook too fast:
Basic Hollandaise Sauce
• 3/4 cup clarified butter (warm)
• 4 egg yolks
• Juice from 1 large lemon
• sea salt, to taste
Whisk the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl for a couple of minutes, until the it is light and foamy (note: my yolks were so thick they never really got “light and foamy” but it still worked!)
Heat a couple of inches of water in a saucepan (or double boiler) over a medium heat until simmering.
Set the bowl with eggs directly over the saucepan of simmering water. The water should not come in contact with the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the eggs for a minute or two; they will thicken slightly. Neil alternated the bowl over the water for a few seconds and away from the saucepan for a few seconds to make sure the eggs did not cook too quickly.
Begin to add clarified butter in a constant stream, slowly at first a few drops at a time, while continuing to whisk (yes, it helps if you have an assistant!). If you add it too quickly, the emulsion will break. As the sauce thickens, you can increase the rate at which you add the butter.
Finally, whisk in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt. The finished sauce should have a smooth, firm consistency. It should pour and stick over your poached egg! If it’s too thick, you can whisk in a few drops of warm water.
And of course it looked simply stunning over eggs Benedict (with wonderful smoked bacon from the Best Little Pork Shoppe, also obtained yesterday in Stratford!):
I am excited to have a copy of TPC on its way (birthday gift from a friend) as I am really enjoying the copy I have from the library right now – it’s full of great information and techniques and it has wonderful step by step pictures which I LOVE!
How about you? Do you need to brush up on some techniques? Well join us for Kitchen Bootcamp next month. Head on over to My Kitchen Addiction for all the details!