Classic Hollandaise With Eggs Benedict

We can’t talk about hollandaise without talking about the mother sauces; there are 5 mother sauces in classic French cuisine: Béchamel, Veloute, Espangnole, Sauce Tomate, and Hollandaise.  The name mother sauce is meaningful because they are all base sauces from which a myriad of other sauces can be made from its “mother” for example, béchamel alone is used in things like  lasagna but once you add gruyere and parmesan cheese to it, you have a new sauce called mornay sauce. Bechamel is the foundation or mother sauce to cheese sauces, mushroom and alfrado sauce.  A secondary sauce to hollandaise is a béarnaise sauce which is basically the addition of white wine vinegar, chopped shallot and fresh tarragon.  Bearnaise sauce is a fantastic sauce with baked salmon and even grilled steak.

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Hollandaise is a very delicate sauce, it’s the only mother sauce not thickened with a roux, instead, it uses an emulsification to stabilize two things that normally won’t stay together. Because it’s so delicate you will need a double broiler to provide indirect heat to your sauce. You don’t need to go out and buy a fancy one though, for years I used a medium pot with a bowl resting on top, (a glass or metal bowl, no plastic for obvious reasons).  You will need to fill your pot with about 2” of water. You don’t want too much water that it touches the bowl but you need to make sure you have enough so it does not steam out during the cooking process.

A few tips: make sure you keep the heat on medium, you want the water in the double broiler to lightly simmer and create steam to gently cook your egg yolks, a raging boil would be to hot and you will probably end up with scrambled eggs. If you feel like your sauce is getting to hot at any point don’t bother with adjusting the heat just lift off the bowl and whisk to cool your sauce down a bit. The consistency you are trying to reach with your eggs before you start adding the butter is something like a Dijon mustard, thick but still smooth.

A few fun hollandaise sauce variation ideas are: cajan hollandaise with smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, southwestern hollandaise with chopped jalapenos, and basil hollandaise with chopped basil. What kinds of variations on this classic mother sauce would you come up with?

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Classic Hollandaise

  • 3 Egg Yolks

  • 3 cubes Butter (Sliced)

  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a double broiler (off the heat) combine egg yolks and lemon juice, whisk to combine. Bring water to simmer while whisking yolks. Once yolks begin to heat up they will become thin and runny, keep cooking and whisking till they become thick and smooth, about the texture of Dijon mustard. Begin adding one chunk of butter at a time to yolks waiting till fully incorporated before adding next chunck. Once half the butter is incorporated you can begin to add multiple butter chunks at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated season with tabasco, salt and pepper. Sauce will last a few hours if you can keep it warm but once it’s cooled you will not be able to re-heat it without separation. To keep it warm serve it from your double broiler.

 

Eggs Benedict

  • 5 English muffins halved and toasted

  • 10 slices ham or Canadian bacon

  • 10 poached or fired eggs

  • 1 recipe hollandaise sauce

  • Chopped parsley

Toast English muffins, fry eggs or poach (ain’t nobody got time for that…lol). Heat the ham in a frying pan. To assemble, layer ham and egg on top of toasted muffin pour over with freshly made hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!