Hollandaise Sauce - Chef Michael Gagné's Way

Try substituting a Cream Cheese Biscuit for an English Muffin for your Eggs Benedict.
Try substituting a Cream Cheese Biscuit for an English Muffin for your Eggs Benedict.

There are few things more pleasurable in life than slicing your fork into a perfectly poached egg and watching the yolk run and swirl into a fluffy, lemony Hollandaise sauce. Eggs Benedict is a Gagné family favorite for Easter morning. We split up the tasks among each member and chatter away as the meal comes together. One person makes the Hollandaise sauce, another preps the poached eggs and asparagus, and another bakes the biscuits. (We use Cream Cheese Biscuits instead of English Muffins for our Benedicts, so much tastier!)

Everyone is always impressed we can pull this off together and I guess it's time to reveal the secret. We get the chef in the family to make the Hollandaise. But after a discussion this week we've decided it's time to put his skill and know-how out to our followers and fans. No one should deny themselves the perfect Hollandaise experience at home because they're scared of failure. Chef Michael Gagné (aka The Biscuit Boss and Dad) to the rescue! I got him to sit down and empty his brain of all the tips and tricks he could come up with to make your sauce experience a screaming success.

Ingredients

  • 4 sticks of unsalted butter, melted, separated and kept warm    
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • Juice of 4 lemons (room temperature)
  • Water (room temperature)
  • Tabasco, salt, white pepper to taste

Utensils

  • Large stainless steel bowl
  • Long, flexible whisk 
  • Large pot, with steaming water on stove 
  • Small ladle
  • Wet dishcloth

Melt butter well in advance and keep in a warm area, allowing to separate with the butter fat rising to the top and the solids to the bottom. Add the egg yolks and 2 oz of water to the large bowl and whip them into a froth. Then place bowl over the steaming pot. Whisk over steam, tilting bowl radically on it's side so that you can whip the longest strokes you can, fully utilizing the side of bowl. Remove from heat when you need to, so the bowl never gets hotter than your hand can stand. When egg yolks are fully cooked and ribbonny in bowl, (before they scramble!) remove from heat, still whisking until cooking stops.

Take a wet dishcloth, form into a ring on your counter top and place bowl on top so stays still. Ladle and whisk in some of the butter fat from the top of your butter bowl, NOT the water and solids on the bottom of your butter bowl, until your sauce thickens. (it's the butter that thickens the sauce). Remember the sauce will never thicken more than the consistency of the cooked yolks initially, which is why that step is critical for a thick sauce that will sit nicely on top of a Benedict or blanched asparagus.

As the sauce thickens, thin with room temperature lemon juice. You can now add more butter until desired flavor profile is achieved. To season, use Tabasco, it disappears nicely into sauce. Then add a little bit of salt and white pepper, use caution as this sauce is very easy to oversalt.

Chef's Tips:

  • To make it easier on yourself make a lot of Hollandaise, perhaps even make 1.5 times this recipe, more than you think you'll need. It's harder with one or two yolks than with 8, as the smaller amount cooks so fast.
  • When adding butterfat, if the sauce looks thick, shiny and waxy, and begins to slide off sides of the bowl, it has too much butter. Go deep to get the water and milk solids from the bottom of the melted butter, and add a little at a time until sauce thins.
  • Hollandaise should not taste like only one of its ingredients, eggs, butter or lemon. It should taste like eggbutterlemon.
  • How do you fix a broken Hollandaise sauce? Sauce will break for two reasons, you exceed the ratio of egg yolks to butter, or the sauce becomes cold, and changes structure, then melts like butter when served. The procedure for bringing it back is the same. Warm broken sauce to about 100 degrees on top of your steaming pot, should feel slightly warm to touch. In a separate metal bowl, whisk one egg yolk with a little water, whisk as described above. Then gradually reincorporate into broken sauce. Pay careful attention to thickness, use the milk solids from the bottom of your butter bowl to adjust.

Good luck!

- The Biscuit Girl and the Biscuit Boss