Ultimate Hollandaise

With spring comes asparagus, the first and grateful culinary sign that the long, cold winter is behind us. For me, thoughts of asparagus naturally lead to Hollandaise. Buttery, frothy… a sauce without compare.

After refrigeration and gentle heating.

The methods to make this oh-so-perfect Hollandaise are nothing short of an exemplary bit of kitchen alchemy. Much like finding the sweet spot on the backboard when learning to play basketball, there’s something quite rewarding, self-satisfying really… when a really recipe clicks for you.

This version has the best parts of several recipes, to come up with this ultimate Hollandaise. It uses the method of adding pieces, instead of melted butter. Folding in whipped egg whites at the end makes the sauce lighter, go further, and tempers the decadence, but not the taste. Any leftover is freezable or can be refrigerated to use the next day. Credit for the genius goes to both the delightful, talented Delia Smith and the master of kitchen science Alton Brown. Brava. Bravo.

Make this creamy, ethereal sauce while your veg is cooking and/or your eggs are poaching. It is wonderful on top of asparagus, fiddleheads, and of course, Eggs Benedict.
To keep it warm: cover and leave the bowl on the bain marie (double boiler/water bath) or store it in a wide mouthed thermos. I’m told the thermos method works well… I’ve yet to try it.

 Ultimate Hollandaise 

This will make about two and a half cups, plenty for one use, and enough left to freeze. Adding butter in pieces instead of melted, means there’s less chance that the sauce will ‘break’ or separate. 
3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp water
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup firm cold butter, cut into 16 pieces
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sugar
2 egg whites
Pinch salt
Whisk egg yolks, water, ground cayenne & salt in a medium sized heatproof bowl, and place over pot of simmering water, making a bain marie or water bath.
Whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time, until half is used. Then add a tablespoon lemon juice.
Continue adding remaining butter, one piece at a time until all is incorporated and sauce is very thick.
Add remaining lemon juice and the sugar – whisk for another minute. Whip the egg whites & salt until stiff peaks form. Lightly fold in and serve immediately or cover and keep warm for up to half an hour.

To eat within a day, store it in the fridge, in a tightly sealed glass container. Heat gently over a water bath. You can also store it in the freezer, again use a glass container, for future use. Defrost in fridge before gentle heating, as above.

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