Thursday, September 02, 2010


Hollandaise! It's mayonnaise, but with butter. Do you know why that makes it hollandaise? Because in Holland they fry their bacon in butter. Yes, and it's delicious. The only confusing part is why I never made hollandaise until today. And that confusing part is also an embarrassing part -- hollandaise is one of the Mother Sauces!

But at lunch today, hollandaise became a simply ineluctable condiment. I was making a salad, and realized that I wanted some butter. Sadly, there was nothing to spread it on, since I had just run out of bread and wouldn't be baking till tomorrow. And then I knew what I had to do: dress the salad with butter, of course. The time had come for hollandaise.

I went straight to the stove and made it. I didn't stop to look in a cookbook or ask the Internet. My conviction was complete, and left no room for doubts or hesitations. I cracked the egg, I melted the butter, I beat it. A pinch of salt, a splash of vinegar. In less than five minutes, I returned to my salad, and poured over it a glossy golden ribbon of sauce, and became a whole woman again. I can still feel it, shining inside me.


Gently melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter in a small pan. Turn it off as soon as it is melted. For the hollandaise to be really sunny, use butter from grassfed cows.

Separate an egg (and fry the white; why not?). Put the yolk in a small jar or bowl and beat it well. For the hollandaise to be even more sunny and golden, use an egg from a pastured hen.

Pour in one drop of the melted butter. Beat it thoroughly, so that the butter is completely incorporated into a creamy, shiny emulsion. Repeat until you've added all the butter. (Towards the end you can add the butter in larger quantities, but don't stop beating until it's all smooth.)

Add some salt and a little apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. I think lemon juice is the preferred thing, but I didn't have any lemons today.

Note: this dressed one large serving of arugula-apple salad.

Also, now I'm beginning to doubt myself. Surely I've made hollandaise before today? In a little way, for a last minute supper? For crepes at breakfast? I'll ask W. Crawford. I make him eat so many things, and they just float away without recipes to weight them down. Or maybe I dreamt about making hollandaise. That's just as likely.

OH MY GOODNESS! I just had an idea. Hollandaise in Waldorf salad. No, better: browned butter hollandaise in Waldorf salad.


Jeremy said...

I've thought about churning butter specifically to make hollandaise, but that way lies madness. I already cure bacon and bake sourdough English muffins to make house-made Eggs Benedict...

Ken Albala said...

OH man, Hollandaise and it's even classier cousin Bernaise go on anything. (just tarragon and vermouth, but same thing) I love that you started with salad though, very historic. Especially among the Dutch, doy, makes sense I guess. But realize, you will slop down the slippery Hollandaise slope after your eggs Benedict wax cold. Because it REALLY goes on anything.

Ken Albala said...

P.S. A section in the sequel OK?

sasha said...

Great idea! Thanks for the recipe, Rosanna. We just received our copy of the cookbook in the mail; I can't wait to jump into it.


Courtney said...

I love the image of a dish floating away without a recipe to weigh it down. Usually my random dishes are good but not awesome, but sometimes I really wish I could remember what I did to that peanut chicken/cranberry preserves/blackened salmon that made it so perfect. Which of course just leads to further experimentation and fun discoveries, so it all turns out good in the end!