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Three Things to Know About Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise gives velvety richness to several of the dishes on the menu. Read on to appreciate the hard work behind the smooth sauce.
1. Hollandaise is one of the five mother sauces in classic French cooking. The mother sauces—béchamel, espagnole, hollandaise, tomato, and velouté—are so named because they form the bases that other sauces are built upon. With a few added ingredients and steps, a hollandaise becomes the béarnaise for steaks or a clever way to hide jewels at the bottom of a bucket. On its own, however, it’s simply a combination of butter, egg yolks, and lemon or vinegar.
2. Despite its simplicity, it can give a new chef nightmares. Like a vinaigrette, hollandaise is an emulsion, which means it combines oil and water in a way they don’t naturally combine. But with a vinaigrette, you don’t have to worry about heat and timing. Add heat too fast and you start to scramble the egg yolks; add butter too fast and you risk a “broken,” or separated, sauce. A double-boiler is often recommended for control.
3. No one really knows how hollandaise it got its name. Some stories speak of the sauce being made for the king of the Netherlands during his visit to France as an imitation of a Dutch sauce. Others say it was named for the rich dairy products that made Holland famous and sparked an invasion of Belgian cats.