Hollandaise is one of the “mother sauces” of classical French cooking, and widely used around New Orleans, where it usually contains an extra pinch of cayenne. It’s not hard to make if you can keep it from breaking, which will happen if the sauce gets too hot once the butter goes in. I avoid this by whisking in the butter in softened, not melted form.
Hollandaise should be made right before it’s needed. If you try to keep it warm, it might break. If that happens, you can sometimes bring it back by adding a little warm water. If that doesn’t work, start with a fresh bowl with one egg yolk, and slowly whisk the broken sauce into it.
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1 stick plus 3 Tbs. butter, softened
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Pinch cayenne
1. Whisk the egg yolks and the vinegar briskly in a metal bowl set over a saucepan with about an inch of simmering water at the bottom. If you see even a hint of curdling in the eggs, take the bowl off the heat, but keep whisking. Keep going back and forth from the heat until the mixture turns thick and lightens in color. Whisk in a tablespoon of warm water.
2. Begin adding the softened butter, a pat at a time. After about a fourth of the butter is in there, you’ll begin to see a change in the texture of the sauce. At that point, you can step up the addition of the butter a bit, and keep going till all the butter is incorporated.
3. Whisk in the cayenne and the lemon juice and serve right away.
Makes about 3/4 cup.