Kitchen Bootcamp 1: Hollandaise Sauce

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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”.

This month, fittingly, being the first, she chose Chapter 16, Sauces.  I remember when I was in Culinary I, we spent quite a bit of time on sauces because it’s such an important skill to learn.

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!

We  clarified butter – again, Neil made this look like a piece of cake!

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:

The finished product was gorgeous!


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Basic Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients:

•    3/4 cup clarified butter (warm)
•    4 egg yolks
•    Juice from 1 large lemon
•    sea salt, to taste

Method:

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.

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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!

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72 thoughts on “Kitchen Bootcamp 1: Hollandaise Sauce”

  1. That’s funny, I just made hollandaise sauce for the first time myself this weekend. We had Asparagus – and I ran out of the “bag” kind and it was Sunday, which in Germany means – no open stores. Out came my Dr. Oetker Cookbook, and for the first time, I successfully made the sauce myself. A piece of cake – don’t know what I was afraid of. Used 4 egg yolkes, 6 tbs while wine and salt, pepper, lemon juice and sugar to taste. The family was quite pleased as well. Maybe I will try my hand at mayonaise next.
    Love your blog!

    Reply
  2. Wow that is perfect! I am so impressed! And the whole Eggs Benedict with the bacon and egg and sauce looks scrumptious! What a husband! I also think its too funny that he spent the morning making what you decided to surprise him with. LOL!

    And BTW how much butter does one need for 3/4 cup clarified?

    And you have 4 more whites for macs!

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  3. I was always a Hollandaise purist (with the bowl, and the whisk, and the sensitive, break-prone sauce), and it was always my Achilles heel. Until I decided to get lazy and do it in the blender. . . And it came out perfectly! It does take away a bit from the experience, and that sense of accomplishment when you do it just right, but it avoids all that frustration (and still tastes infinitely better than the pouch stuff). Of course, now I don’t have a blender. . . you may have inspired me to try the hard way again 🙂

    Reply
  4. I adore Hollandaise sauce! I had it for the first time just last month, and fell head over heels in love with it. It does seem to have quite a bit of effort involved tho, but I must try it some time soon!

    Reply
  5. What beautiful looking sauce. You must have used some free range eggs to get the gorgeous colour. The only way to go. Did you find that the sauce is not as fattening per person as everyone seems to think? I was so surprised how far the sauce went the first time I made it which definitely encouraged me to make it more often, as it was with less guilt. There is NOTHING like accomplishing a task by hand. Just like using a calculator… you have to know to do the math yourself before you take the short cut…
    The first photo looks magazine ready.
    🙂
    Valerie

    Reply
  6. This is going into my files! I just bought an egg poacher for the purpose of Eggs Benny. Now, I think I have the last step to complete my Benny journey – an easy-to-follow Hollandaise recipe! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Yum, eggs Benedict one of my favorite things to have for breakfast! Sounds like so much fun!

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  8. YUM! Eggs benedict is my favorite (ever had it with a crab cake instead of bacon? oh my…) but I’ve never attempted to make my own hollandaise. Neil sounds like such a pro in the kitchen!

    Going over to check out the bootcamp.

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  9. I can hear them calling my name… I’ve been meaning to make hollandaise sauce since forever but I just can’t get past making poached eggs for Eggs Ben, it freaks me out!!

    Going to check out the bootcamp too!

    Reply
  10. Great photos! I prefer my hollandaise with the reduction…deeper flavour…but yours looks very tasty!

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  11. Looks beautiful – no doubt due to those amazingly yellow yolks! I actually gasped “cooking without a recipe”?! scary to me haha! Neil appears to be quite the pro 🙂
    Cheers!
    C

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  12. Look at those eggs go! I’m currently comparing Eggs Benedict in different restaurants so it was interesting to read how you made the hollandaise. I’ve never had one that yellow unfortunately!

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  13. Fantabulous! Congrats on getting this on Foodgawker – this really is a great shot, the light is just perfect, and the colors pop.

    Reply
  14. HAH! My friend Francoise gave me some gorgeous asparagus on condition that I make a mousseline sauce to go with it. So I made the hollandaise, no problem. Then I proceeded to overbeat the cream for the mousseline and when I added it to the holandaise it started to turn to butter. Ew. So I started over. It curdled. Now I”m on my third try. Stay tuned….

    Yours looks gorgeous. Hats off to you and Neil for making this look easy!

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  15. this looks luscious! i’m always struck by the vivid yolks of our farm eggs too – we’ve become so accustomed to their pale supermarket cousins that they almost look artificially colored!

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  16. In fairness, I owe a great debt to the fact I spent the weekend in the kitchen at said charity camp. With two professional – and patient – chefs. So making the huge batch, with a professional at my side, was wonderful. Wish I could do it more often!

    Funny thing re using a recipe…I was caught on the weekend measuring something (Hula Hula Chicken) and one of them shouted “don’t measure – just plop it in based on your gut”. GULP! But truly, from their perspective if you know your ingredients and ratios and flavours well….well, it should become natural. THAT, I find an impressive goal.

    (Meanwhile, the two bakers looked at us like we were crazy – being the chemists that they are.)

    For the record, I did not use the reduction to stabilise as I was starving and we were going to eat immediately. A reduction of many sorts/flavours could even be made ahead of time.

    Reply
  17. A good sauce can be the real bread and butter of any cooks repertoire. I am still working on my success in sauces and this hollandaise seems like a good place to start!

    Reply
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  19. Pardon me on raining on everyone’s parade but I never understood the love for hollandaise sauce. Its texture and smell is just gross. When I am out for breakfast I always have to remind the waiter to skip this runny yellow stuff. Ugh!

    Reply
      • Oh I am, I know! just not a fan of melted butter or any butter in general. Plus I had really bad experiences with Eggs Benny in the restaurants.

        The photo looks beautifully presented though:)

        Reply
        • You know I’ve just never understood the need for someone, when discussing food, to express how gross or disgusting they think something looks when they have a personal preference that is so different from the majority.

          Seems to me it falls in the category of ‘If you can’t say something nice; don’t say anything at all.” Especially when commenting on a blog post that has obviously been a labour of love.

          Reply

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