Butter sauces consist of egg yolks cooked to a temperature not exceeding 60 °C with the addition of butter. The flavor of these sauces is to a large extent influenced by the various reductions which may be added consisting of herbs and vinegar. They are generally served as accompaniments but may also be presented as coating sauces for certain vegetables.
Sauces in this category may be used to complement a wide variety of dishes:
— boiled, grilled, poached or shallow fried;
— usually small individual items such as steaks, chops and cutlets that are either grilled or shallow fried;
— individual vegetables as in the case of asparagus and globe artichokes; or
— vegetables forming part of a composite garnish such as garnish Renaissance in which a number of vegetables are used including cauliflower coated with a butter sauce.
The two most commonly used sauces in this category are Sauce Hollandaise and Sauce Béarnaise, the former being used primarily for fish and vegetables and the latter for meat and fish. There are two possible methods for preparing these sauces in the initial stages, as can be seen in 3.12 below, though both sauces can be made in the same way.
Sauce Hollandaise & Sauce Bearnaise Recipe
Makes: 1/2 Liter.
Cooking Time: 30 mins.
5 g egg yolkg
500 g clarified butter
1/2 dl vinegar
10 crushed peppercorns
1 juice of lemon
seasoning of salt and cayenne pepper
1/2 dl vinegar
10 crushed peppercorns
a few tarragon and chervil stalks
5 g parsley stalks
10 g chopped tarragon
5 g chopped chervil
5 g chopped parsley
seasoning of sale and cayenne pepper
(1) Make the reduction and allow it to cool using a tin-lined or stainless steel sloping sided saucepan..
(2) Add the egg yolks and a little cold water.
(3) Cook the egg yolks whilst whisking continuously (either by standing the pan on a warm part of the cooker or standing the saucepan in a bain-marie of hot water) until the mixture has the consistency of double cream and reaches the ribbon stage (i.e. light, creamy and thick). Do not allow the mixture to reach a temperature above 60°C.
(4) Remove the pan from the cooker and add the butter gradually, whisking all the time.
(5) Strain the sauce by passing it through a muslin cloth or a very fine strainer.
(6) Add any garnish of herbs or additional flavourings required at this stage.
(7) Season to taste, correct the flavor and consistency, and serve.
(1) Make the reduction and allow it to cool, using a tin-lined or stainless steel sloping sided saucepan.
(2) Add the egg yolks, all the butter in unclarified form and a little cold water.
(3) Stand the preparation in a bain-marie of hot water and whisk occasionally to prevent the egg yolks from scrambling. Cook to the ribbon stage whilst at the same time emulsifying the butter and cooked egg yolks.
(4) When cooked continue from stage (4) in Method 1 above.
Assessment of the completed Sauce Hollandaise
(1) The sauce should be an egg yolk yellow in color similar to mayonnaise.
(2) It should be similar to double cream in consistency and rather thick.
(3) It should have a rich flavour of butter with a delicate blend of lemon and the reduction of vinegar and peppercorns. There should be no identifiable taste of cooked egg, and it should be seasoned to bring out the flavour of all the ingredients without the seasoning being apparent.
(4) It should be smooth in texture with absolutely no traces of coagulated egg yolk or of curdling.
(5) This should be a warm sauce when served, with a temperature above blood heat but below 65°C.
Possible problem, cause and solution:
(1) Sauce lacks flavor
— insufficient reduction added, add a little more reduction to improve the flavor.
— insufficient seasoning, add a little more seasoning to improve the flavor.
(2) Sauce is too dark
— too much reduction added, add more cooked egg yolks and butter to lighten the color.
(3) Sauce has a grayish tint
— sauce was cooked in an aluminum saucepan; avoid using any utensils made of aluminium as this cannot be rectified.
(4) Sauce has texture and flavor of scrambled eggs
— egg yolks allowed to reach too high a temperature; care must be taken during the preparation of the sauce as this can’t later be rectified.
(5) Sauce has curdled
— egg yolks not sufficiently cooked; care must be taken during the preparation of the sauce as this cannot be later rectified.
— clarified butter too hot when added to the cooked yolks; either (a) whisk the sauce slowly onto a little cold water, or (b) whisk the sauce onto some uncurdled sauce.
— sauce allowed to stand in a hot environment when completed; either: (a) whisk the sauce slowly onto a little cold water, (b) whisk the sauce onto a raw egg yolk, or (c) whisk the sauce onto some uncurdled sauce.
— sauce has been reheated after being allowed to cool; either: (a) whisk the sauce slowly onto a little hot water, (b) whisk the sauce onto some cooked egg yolks, or (c) whisk the sauce onto some uncurdled sauce.