A tangy sauce for vegetables, fish, chicken, and eggs. A traditional hollandaise sauce requires care. The eggs must be cooked slowly over very low heat, and the butter must be added very gradually.
To make 11/4 cups sauce, blend 3 egg yolks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and a pinch of cayenne pepper in an enamel, stainless steel, or glass pan. Set the mixture over very low heat or hot (not boiling) water. Beat with a wooden spoon, wire whisk, or electric mixer until the eggs are the consistency of heavy cream. Have ready 1 stick of butter (4 ounces), cut into eight pieces. Beat in one piece of butter until it is absorbed by the egg mixture. Then beat in the other pieces one at a time. When the sauce coats the beater thickly, remove from the heat but continue to stir for about another minute. Serve warm.
If the sauce thickens too quickly, remove it from the heat and add 1 tablespoon cold water. If it’s too thin, put 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon sauce into a warm bowl and beat until thick. Then beat in the rest of the sauce 1/2 tablespoon at a time.
If the sauce curdles, remove it from the heat and beat in 1 tablespoon cold water, a little at a time, until the sauce becomes smooth. If this fails, beat an egg yolk in a clean pan until it thickens, then gradually beat in the curdled sauce until smooth.
Hollandaise should be served immediately but can be kept warm up to 1 hour over a pilot light or set in lukewarm water with plastic wrap on its surface to prevent a skin forming. Blender hollandaise sauce Although this has a slightly different flavor and texture from the traditional sauce, it’s easier to make. Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan until bubbly. Rinse the blender container with hot water. Put in 3 egg yolks, 1/4 cup hot water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of cayenne. Cover the blender; whirl at high speed for 3 seconds. Remove the cover but keep the blender on; slowly pour in the hot butter.
Makes 11/2 cups.