Homemade is Better—Hollandaise Sauce

I wrote about the five mother sauces earlier when we looked at mayonnaise, which is really an altered form of the mother sauce hollandaise.  Today, we’ll discuss hollandaise, one of the more popular breakfast sauces.  It doesn’t have to be a breakfast sauce, but that is generally when you see it get used.  Hollandaise is traditionally made with egg yolks and clarified butter—about a cup of butter per egg yolk.  The butter must be warm though, which makes this sauce the most challenging to make.  You must add the butter slowly, like with the mayonnaise, so that it will incorporate.  But you can’t add it too fast because you’ll either scramble the egg or it won’t emulsify properly.

The second concern with traditional hollandaise is its longevity.  It doesn’t keep for very long, and it’s difficult to reheat. Restaurants that I’ve worked at toss any remaining sauce if it was made traditionally because of its lack of stability.

Usually making hollandaise requires you whisk constantly and quickly while stirring in the butter, but there are certainly ways to make it without.  A blender, stand mixer, immersion blender with a whisk attachment, or a food processor can all work.  You’ll add a teaspoon of clarified butter to one egg yolk at a time.  And continue to add the butter until the sauce starts to look thicker.  Then you can add the butter in a steady, but slow, stream.  A teaspoon or two of lemon juice, a little salt, and there you have it: your own hollandaise.

That’s a lot of work, but worth it if you don’t mind taking your time to get it right.  But I’m going to give you a quicker way to make it that is stable, has longevity, and can be reheated multiple times so you can have eggs Benedict whenever you want!

But if you don’t want it for breakfast, another sauce that uses hollandaise as its base  is béarnaise sauce, which is great with steaks.  To make béarnaise you add shallots (or very finely chopped onions), white vinegar, and tarragon.  Maltaise is another sauce derived from hollandaise.  You add half an orange’s worth of juice, traditionally blood oranges, and you also add the zest of the orange.  And the last sauce that you can make with hollandaise is mousseline sauce, which has the addition of whipped cream, about half a cup of it, and you can even add some sugar to sweeten it up if you’d like.

Now for the moment you started reading this for.  How to make Eggs Benedict at home on a Tuesday.

Eggs Benedict

Faster Hollandaise Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1-2 tsp lemon juice

Egg’s Benny Ingredients:

1 English muffin
1 slice of ham
1 poached egg
1-2 tbsp hollandaise

  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  • Slice your English muffins, and start toasting them.
  • Once they are toasted, butter each piece and put them on a plate.
  • Mix the mayo, sour cream, mustard, ½ the lemon juice together.
  • Place it over medium heat, and warm up until just bubbling.
  • Once the water boils, turn the heat down to simmer, add 2 tbsps of vinegar.
  • Stir the water and vinegar, then crack an egg into it, you can poach a couple at a time. The trick is to stir the water quickly, then add the eggs.  The vinegar will add a little sour to keep the egg together.
  • You can heat up the ham in a frying pan, or just use it as is, but place one slice of ham on the English muffin.
  • Once the egg is poached to your liking you can use a slotted spoon (or a spoon with holes in it) to pull the egg out of the water and place it on the ham.
  • Keep poaching eggs until you have enough.
  • Once you have your English muffin, with ham, then a poached egg, you can spoon on some of the hollandaise.
  • Sprinkle on a little bit of cayenne pepper, and voila!
  • Once you’re done, you can put your hollandaise into a container with a tight lid and consume it within a week or so. While everything you just made is likely stable it will taste best for the week, but you could push it a few more days.
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