Basic Hollandaise Sauce
Makes about 1-1/4 cups
This classic version of hollandaise sauce, a French egg and butter sauce flavored with lemon, can be found anywhere. It is only the cooking method that differs depending on the recipe. Typically, hollandaise is prepared in a double boiler, as in this recipe. However, it can be done in a saucepan, being careful to keep the heat very low so as not to scramble the eggs. There are other recipes that use a blender, where hot butter is added instead of cold to cook the eggs. Hollandaise sauce is good with seafood, vegetables and eggs, the most well-known preparation being Eggs Benedict. As with any sauce, other ingredients, such as herbs and spices, can be added to enhance flavor or complement the seasonings in the dish.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) chilled butter, preferably unsalted, each cut into 8 pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste (see notes below)
Place water in the bottom of a double boiler and bring to a simmer. Place the egg yolks in the top pan and whisk until thick and creamy. Whisk in the cold water and lemon juice. Place the pan over the simmering water, being certain the water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Continue to whisk until the egg mixture is warm, about 2 minutes. The mixture is thick enough when it forms a light cream on the whisk. Continue to whisk and add the butter, 1 piece at a time. When the first is incorporated, add the second and so on until all of the butter is whisked in. As the mixture thickens, the butter can be added more rapidly. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Notes: Unsalted butter is always best in a recipe like this because it has a fresher flavor. If you use salted butter, go easy on the salt until you know how it tastes. Most chefs use white pepper with a white sauce so there are no black specks. That does not bother me and I use freshly ground black pepper in all my cooking. Hollandaise sauce can be kept warm until needed by placing in a thermos or by setting the pan in lukewarm water.