Many classic French sauces are named for a place, and this newly invented one is no exception. Kientzheim is a small town in Alsace where molecular gastronomer Hervé This has his roots.
The sauce is a combination of several different sauces; the novelty is in the combination, not the components. It is made with browned butter that is whisked into an egg yolk, the same process that is used to make mayonnaise. The result is like a nutty hollandaise or bearnaise.
It is important that you brown the butter without burning it. By including a little liquid — water, juice or milk — you slow the browning and add flavor. Orange juice lends a little acidity and sweetness; milk adds milk sugars to be browned, leading to a deeper flavor.
This version includes a little mustard to make the emulsion more stable.
The sauce should be made shortly before serving. Serve with grilled or poached fish or grilled meat.
Servings: 1 cup
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature), cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (may substitute milk or water)
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 or 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard (optional)
Melt about one-third of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until it is bubbling gently. Add the remaining butter in 2 additions, stirring it in.
Once all of the butter is boiling vigorously, pay close attention. When the boiling starts to recede, that is an indication that the butter's water content has almost evaporated; after that, the temperature will start to rise rapidly. You need adequate heat to achieve the desired light-caramel color. But at the same time, the sauce can easily burn, leaving a undesirable bitter taste.
When there are some signs of browning, normally near the edges of the pan, add 1 tablespoon of orange juice, then stir, and wait until the boiling recedes. Repeat this step twice, allowing a little more time for browning the second and third time.
Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Combine the egg yolks, lemon juice to taste, salt and mustard, if using, in a mixing bowl; use a balloon whisk to whisk vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds to form a smooth, bright-yellow mixture.
Add a small drop of the melted butter mixture and whisk vigorously until completely incorporated. Repeat this step a few times, gradually moving from single drops to a very slow, thin stream. Whisk until all the butter mixture plus its caramelized milk solids are completely incorporated into the sauce, which will have the consistency of a loose yet cohesive mayonnaise.
Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Adapted by Andreas Viestad from a recipe by Hervé This.
Tested by Scott Reitz.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.