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Hollandaise Sauce

 

 


Hollandaise sauce (a French idea of a Dutch sauce) is an emulsion of butter and lemon juice using egg yolks as the emulsifying agent. Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient in eggs Benedict.

Alan Davidson notes a "sauce à la hollandoise" from François Marin's Dons de Comus (1758), but since that sauce included butter, flour, bouillon, and herbs, and omitted egg yolks, it may have been Dutch but it didn't figure in the genealogy of modern hollandaise. Davidson also quotes from Harold McGee (1990) who explains eggs are not needed at all and proper emulsification can simply be done with butter. He also states that if one does wish to use eggs they are not needed in as great quantities as normally called for in traditional recipes.

The sauce using egg yolks and butter appeared in the 19th century. Though various sources say it was first known as "sauce Isigny" (a town in Normandy said to have been renowned for the quality of its butter), Mrs. Isabella Beeton's Household Management had recipes in the first edition (1861) for "Dutch sauce, for fish" (p. 405) and its variant on the following page, "Green sauce, or Hollandaise verte". Her directions for hollandaise seem somewhat fearless:

"Put all the ingredients, except the lemon-juice, into a stew-pan; set it over the fire, and keep continually stirring. When it is sufficiently thick, take it off, as it should not boil..."

Indeed not. But Mrs. Beeton cheats, with a half-teaspoon of flour. Even a pinch of arrowroot in a modern hollandaise would be accounted a low subterfuge.

A dash of whipped cream folded into hollandaise makes a Chantilly sauce.

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