November 7, 2012 | Condiments, Sauces, Technique
When my daughter began finding her passion for cooking, she became obsessed with sauces. As you well know, they are what separates a simple dry baked filet of fish from a restaurant version of the same entree. Sure, you don’t want to have a heavy cream and butter sauce on everything you eat, but by mastering the simple technique for buerre blanc you’ll always have a quick go to sauce for special dinners with friends or family.A classic buerre blanc sauce is just an emulsified butter sauce (so the butter is thick when it’s melted instead of runny), and it starts with a simple combination of shallots and white wine vinegar. I was looking to build some additional flavor in my sauce, and I wanted it a bit creamier, so I simmered the shallots with peppercorns, chopped fresh tarragon, and some sherry vinegar. (Hint: using a bit of cream to make this sauce makes it easier to incorporate the butter without it breaking and separating, so even if you want mostly a butter sauce, using a small amount of cream to start the emulsification will help.) The good news is that a buerre blanc sauce is so flavorful you only need a small spoonful over a piece of fish or chicken to elevate it from simple to elegant. Sounds like another idea for a holiday recipe to keep on hand, doesn’t it?
- 2 small shallots, sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar), as needed to cover ingredients
- ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
- 8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
- Combine shallots, tarragon, and peppercorns in a small saucepan and add vinegar just to cover ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated and only a couple of tablespoons of vinegar remain. Add cream, if using, and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in butter one piece at a time until fully incorporated. Strain out the solids and discard solids. Serve immediately or hold in a glass bowl over a pot of hot water to keep warm until ready to serve.