Hollandaise sauce might be best known as the topping-off sauce to the classic brunch dish eggs Benedict, but it’s smooth texture and rich taste make it the perfect pairing for a medium-rare filet steak, juicy stalks of steamed asparagus, delicate fish, and French toast. It’s a sauce that makes relatively simple dishes look sophisticated enough to fool your friends into thinking you’ve mastered the art of French cooking.
The History of Hollandaise Sauce
As one of the five mother sauces, hollandaise was created in Normandy and named after the French word for “Dutch sauce.” However, it wasn’t called hollandaise until after World War I, when the dairy industry shuttered in Normandy and French chefs had to get creative. They imported butter from Holland as a substitute for rich cream...and from there: “Dutch sauce.”
However, the first documented evidence of this sauce is from the 17th century when it was mentioned as “Sauce Isigny” (after a town in Normandy famous for its butter and cream) in the book, Le Cuisinier François or “The French Cook” by François Pierre La Varenne.
François Pierre La Varenne was a well-known chef who paired the sauce with asparagus in his much loved and world-renowned cookbook in 1651, which ignited the sauce’s popularity.
At the time François considered a true hollandaise sauce as eggs, butter, and lemon. However, in the book, there are a few variations of Hollandaise, including adding French wine vinegar, tarragon, or shallots.
His directions about making the sauce were pretty basic, which probably added to its popularity. Yet François, cautioned home chefs about the danger of “breaking” the hollandaise. One must whisk constantly, so the sauce doesn’t curdle or break. Sometimes the emulsion process can be temperamental, and if it’s not done right you can end up with separation of the ingredients aka “a broken sauce.”
A Fifth Mother Sauce is Born
Hollandaise wasn’t added to the list of four mother sauces until Georges Auguste Escoffier gave it the designation. The famous culinary writer included it as a noteworthy and contemporary sauce in his book, Le Guide Culinaire or “A Guide To Modern Cookery,” in 1903. From there, hollandaise became the fifth mother sauce ...and with good reason. It’s a versatile sauce that elevates cooking.
Photo: Hello Fresh
How to Make a Basic Hollandaise Sauce
Makes 2 cups (Adapted from Epicurious)
You don’t need a double boiler for this. You can use stainless steel bowl and a saucier.
Whisk together room temperature egg yolks and lemon in a stainless steel bowl until light and frothy. Then place the bowl over a 3 QT Saucier with a couple of inches of gently simmering water. Keep whisking and slowly drizzle in the melted butter until thickened and doubled in volume. Then take off the heat and stir in the salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Put a Texan Spin On This Classic
In the mood to add some spice to your Sunday morning and bring this recipe into the 21st century? Put a Texan spin on your hollandaise by adding a little bit of the liquid from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce or cayenne pepper, chipotle powder and lime juice.
This recipe of Eggs Benedict With Chipotle Hollandaise from the Food Network outlines a no-fail way to make your eggs feel the Texan fire.
And way you make it, whip up some Hollandaise in our Stainless Steel Saucier Pan for a sophisticated addition to this weekend’s poached egg, and you’ll be able to say “Volia, y’all.”