Hollandaise sauce is a great way to make use of egg yolks you might have lying around after separating them from whites for recipes. It's also a "mother sauce," meaning it acts as the base for other sauce recipes. This makes it quite the versatile food item to not pass up. the sauce is made by whisking together some egg yolks with clarified butter (fat that's melted and skimmed of its white solids--hence the name) over a double boiler.

Hollandaise sauce isn't used for just about anything, however; only certain food types and their recipes can go well with it.

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These include other egg dishes (naturally), fish dishes and vegetables. For eggs dishes, the preferred choice is the Egg Benedict. For fish, a poached fish dish stands out well with this thick yellow sauce. Finally, in terms of accompanying vegetables, the go-to-green is asparagus.

Below is a straight forward recipe for the Hollandaise sauce that can be done in less than half an hour. Included are some fun variations to try out when you're ready to make that leap.

The recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp (1 lemon) lemon juice
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Fill a small saucepan with up to 2 inches of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Place the butter into a bowl and place it over the saucepan to melt. Skim any white solids from the surface of the clarified butter using a spoon. Set the clarified butter aside but make sure it stays warm. You might have to reheat it slightly before your ready to use it.
  2. Reduce the heat over the water and bring it down to a simmer. make sure to replenish the water if it gets too low.
  3. Crack open the eggs over another small bowl, separating the yolks from the whites. Seal and store the whites for another recipe.
  4. Combine the yolks, cold water, half of the lemon juice, and salt together in a bowl and whisk. Place the bowl over the simmering water. Continue whisking for 3-5 minutes or until the yolk mixture turns pale and thickens.
  5. Remove the yolk mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the clarified butter until fully combined.
  6. When finished, season the Hollandaise sauce with the remaining lemon juice and cayenne. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water.
  7. Serve with poached fish, cooked eggs of vegetables of choice.

Serves: 4

Variations

  • Béarnaise - Add 2 tablespoons of dry white wine and tarragon vinegar to the yolk mixture before placing over the simmering water in Step 4.
    • Served with grilled meats.
  • Royal - Combine the finished sauce with equal parts a velouté sauce and heavy cream.
    • Served with poached white meats/fish.
  • Dijon - Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to yolk mixture before placing over the simmering water in Step 4.
  • Maltaise - Substitute orange juice for the water. Add an additional 2 tablespoons to the finished sauce before serving.
    • Served with asparagus and broccoli.