Beurre Blanc

This weeks recipe makes me wonder how the heck the French have less of a problem with heart attacks than the United States. Beurre Blanc is a butter sauce made with a lot of butter. One pound to be precise. Sure there’s a bit of a white wine/shallot reduction, but that’s simply a distraction from the main ingredient.

Butter.

Did I mention that there’s a lot of butter in this dish?

Much like a great many recipes, there’s a decent story on how Beurre Blanc was discovered. About.com gives the details:

The story takes place around the turn of the century in the kitches of château of the Marquis de Goulaine. His kitchen staff was preparing for an important dinner under the direction of his head cuisinière Madame Clémence Lefeuvre. She was very busy preparing the pike and asked an assistant to make a bérnaise sauce, which she liked to serve with the fish. The assistant forgot to add the tarragon and the egg yolks but there was no time to start over, so Clémence decided to serve the sauce as it was. After the meal, the Marquis asked Clémence to come into the dining room where of course she expected to be reprimanded. Instead, he praised her new preparation and gave it the name of “beurre blanc”. Clémence soon took her new creation and opened her own auberge. Although they can’t agree on the actual birthplace of the sauce, both will tell you that the inclusion of cream is not an “authentic” beurre blanc.

As for what kind of white wine to use, I’d use a sweeter wine, to contrast nicely against the tart of the vinegar. Anything too oakey might be a tad odd to the taste.

  • 4 oz shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lb unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • Salt and (white) pepper to taste

Place the shallots, vinegar and white wine in a sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce the wine/vinegar concoction to somewhere between 75-90% of its initial volume.

Turn the heat to high and add the butter all at once. Continously whisk the sauce until all the butter has melted. Be careful here as there is a point of no return where if you heat the sauce too long it will break down into a sort of “infused” clarified butter. Once you get the point where the sauce is creamy in consistency yet still opaque, remove it from the heat.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over your favorite fish.

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