About the most sinful thing you can do with fat and eggs… Yup folks, that would be those three charming French culinary cousins mayonnaise, béarnaise and hollandaise. Mayonnaise is the odd one out in this party as the fat content is provided by oil, whereas béarnaise and hollandaise use, you guessed it, butter.

I’ve seen many a competent cook blanch at the thought of making these fat/egg emulsions. Tales of sauces splitting and cooks spitting abound. Truth is, they’re remarkably easy to whip up.
There are only a few rules to follow for fool-proof hollandaise, and the biggest of them by far is to keep the temperature low. The math on this is simple: high temperature + egg yolks = scramble.

Here are three basic ways of making hollandaise and all three of them work for me without fail.

All you need is…

2 jumbo or XL free range egg yolks
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs water
125g salted butter (really good butter is essential, so splash and go for Lurpak, Kerrygold or Président)
extra lemon juice and salt to taste

METHOD #1 – with melted butter
Melt the butter gently in a saucepan and scoop off any foam. Set aside. Now place the egg yolks, lemon juice and water in a double boiler over gently simmering water. (If you do not have a double boiler, fit a ceramic bowl over a normal pot of simmering water, but do ensure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. You want the bowl to be gently heated by steam, not directly heated by boiling water.)
Use an electric handheld whisk and whisk the egg water mix until it’s foamy and light and starts to thicken. Then very slowly drizzle the melted butter into the egg mixture while constantly whisking. The sauce will gradually thicken – you’re looking for the consistency of thin custard. Remove from the heat and whisk for a few extra seconds. Taste it. I love my hollandaise tart, so I generally add an extra squeeze of lemon at this point. Salted butters do not all have the same salt content, so taste and adjust salt if necessary. I find mostly it is. Serve warm.

METHOD #2 – with soft room temperature butter
Follow the instructions as per method one, but instead of melting the butter, dice it into small blocks and let it get to soft room temperature. (This work very well in summer, rather less so in winter.) Whisk in the blocks of butter one at a time until it’s all in. Finish with the lemon and salt as per above. This method tends to produce a creamier, thicker consistency than methods one and three, which tend to deliver lighter, foamier hollandaise sauce. If it gets too thick, thin it down with a bit of water. Note: this method is slightly trickier than the other two, so if you feel a touch skittish, start with method one or three.

METHOD #3 – in your liquidizer
Place the yolks, water and lemon in a liquidizer and blitz until light and frothy. Slowly drizzle in warm melted butter while the liquidizer is on. Taste and adjust lemon and salt as needed.

COOK’S NOTES:
1) Hollandaise must be served warm. You can keep it warm for a while in the double boiler you made it in. But the stove must be off of course.
2) If the sauce gets too thick, thin it down with some water. If it splits, whisk in an ice cube to bring it back together again.
3) Hollandaise is brilliant over steamed white fish and steamed or griddled asparagus. Or top a toasted English muffin with ham or bacon, a poached egg and hollandaise for that classic breakfast treat, eggs Benedict.

serves

2-3

prep

0 min

cook

10-15 min

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