After thinking for a few days on what I wanted to make involving butter I settled on a sauce – a butter based sauce. I haven’t made too many in my day so I figured it’d be a challenge and good practice. Who better to consult for this task but Ms. Julia Child? So I read her chapter on Hot Butter Sauces and settled on beurre blanc – a classic sauce that pairs well with so many foods from fish to vegetables. I thought it seemed like a delicious, yet simple enough recipe to tackle for my very first blog post. The plan went like this: steam some asparagus, make a nice creamy butter sauce, dive in. I guess I should have known better – so often things that are seemingly simple end up being anything but.
Let’s begin with the ingredients – yes there is more to it than just butter – but not much… In a small saucepan, I used a 1 1/2 quart sized pan, join the following ingredients:
2 1/2 Tb white-wine vinegar
2 1/2 Tb dry vermouth – I love using vermouth instead of white wine while cooking – I think it gives a wonderfully rich flavor , however, you can use wine or lemon juice here
2 1/2 Tb finely minced shallots
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 white pepper
2 Tb butter
Bring this to a boil and let it reduce a bit until about 1 1/2 tablespoons of syrupy liquid remains.Now for adding the butter (lots of butter.) Have the 8 ounces (2 sticks) of butter cut up into 16 pieces ready to add. Wire whisk in hand.
The trick to a beautiful beurre blanc is to make sure the butter does not turn oily – like melted butter. You want the sauce to be luxuriously think, warm and creamy. On my first, unsuccessful, attempt I used room temperature butter and kept the pan over high heat while adding the pieces and once I got through about half the butter it turned into hot, clear, liquidy butter. Not what I wanted.
So I scratched the first attempt and went at the second, successful, attempt a little differently. Instead of room temperature butter I used chilled butter and I removed the pan from the heat before I started adding the butter piece by piece. Constantly beating the sauce with the wisk add 3 pieces of butter off the heat and then for the remaining pieces return the pan to a very low heat. The sauce remained thick and creamy and gave off the most amazingly rich aroma. Once I added all 16 pieces the sauce looked divine, I was quite pleased with myself, and it was ready to taste. I ended up adding a squeeze of lemon and a touch more salt for good measure.
Upon completion I beamed at my shiny, velvety sauce – a tasty culinary classic, however, I couldn’t help but wonder how often one could eat this before keeling over in cardiac arrest. With that much butter involved I’m not sure I’ll be indulging on a regular basis but I did feel a little better pairing it with steamed asparagus.