Beurre Blanc (White Butter Sauce)
Makes about 1 cup
This is the classic version of the basic French butter sauce. It is very quick and easy, and goes well with seafood, poultry, vegetables or eggs. Once you learn the method, there are many possibilities for flavor enhancement. See the variations below for some suggestions.
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) cold unsalted butter, each cut into 8 pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the vinegar, wine and shallots in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until reduced to about 1-1/2 tablespoons. Reduce heat to low. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisk vigorously. When the first is incorporated, add the second and so on until all of the butter is whisked in. Work fast, but be patient and do not add too much at one time. The sauce should be thick and creamy. Add the salt and pepper. Use immediately or the butter might break down and separate.
Notes: The classic sauce uses white pepper so that it is completely white. I do not mind specks of black pepper in mine because I prefer the flavor and it is what I have on hand. The choice is yours.
Variations: Lemon or lime juice can be substituted for the vinegar. You can use stock in place of the wine. Add some herbs or spices to complement the dish with which the sauce is served. You can use minced onion or garlic instead of shallots. Some cream can be incorporated before whisking in the butter for an even richer sauce. As long as you follow the method, you can add or substitute to taste.