SIMPLE LEMON BEURRE BLANC
Lemon beurre blanc is a super simple sauce to make, but serve it up to a group of friends, along side that little fish dish you’ve been wanting to try, you will be seen as a kitchen wizard!
This is quite simply a butter sauce, but it is a cornerstone of classic French cuisine. The perfect balance of sharpness, sweetness and rich butter flavours, this sauce complements fish or shellfish brilliantly.
Traditionally cold butter is whisked into a reduced poaching liquor as an accompaniment for fish, but more recently it can but done with any reduction. Leaving us with a rich creamy sauce with a buttery taste and piquant accents from the reduction. This can be done by adding the butter gradually to the reduction while gently heating it and whisking continuously.
It is important that the liquor be hot enough to allow the butter to melt, but not so hot that it over heats. If this happens the butter will start to split from the liquor and leave us with an oily looking sauce as opposed to one that is creamy, smooth and glossy.
Though we don’t traditionally use emulsifiers in a beurre blanc, double cream can be added to the liquor and reduced to act as a stabiliser and prevent the butter and liquid from separating. We just need to be careful that the flavour of the cream does not over power the butter.
No you’re not! Let’s crack on with that sauce!
— Al Brady
100g shallot, finely diced
1 lemon, zest only
150ml lemon juice
100ml white wine
50ml white wine vinegar
250g unsalted butter
salt & black pepper
Put the shallot, lemon zest and juice, white wine and white wine vinegar together into a pan. Bring to the boil and continue to boil until the liquid has reduced by 2/3.
Once the liquid has reduced, turn down the heat and add a couple of cubes of cold butter. Using a whisk, beat the butter into the reduction by whisking as vigorously as you can.
Once the butter is fully incorporated, add another fews cubes of butter, whisking continuously. It is really important to make sure each addition of butter has completely melted before adding the next, to ensure a smooth and stable emulsion. Slow and steady wins the race, so don't rush this, add the butter gradually!
Continue in this manner until all the butter has been added and the sauce has thickened up. If this is your first time making beurre blanc, I would recommend doing this over the lowest heat possible to avoid splitting the sauce. As you become more confident with this technique, you can do it over a medium heat to speed up the process.
Once all the butter has been added and the sauce has thickened up, pass the sauce through a sieve into a clean pan, to remove the shallots.* Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce immediately or keep warm.
*Optional; the shallots can be left in the sauce if you prefer!
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That's it! Simple lemon beurre blanc made in no time at all! Give yourself a pat on the back you have just conquered one of the most satisfying classic French sauces!
Just a few things to consider…
Beurre blancs are fickle beasts! If it gets too hot, it will split! If it gets too cold, it will split. It has to be kept warm in order to keep the emulsion stable! It is basically the Goldilocks of the sauce world!
Beurre blancs need to be used as soon as possible after they are made! If not using straight away; you can keep the sauce warm by placing the pan in a container of warm water or bain marie, keeping the sauce between 60ºC to 64ºC. But this is a short term solution. This is not a sauce you can make one day and use the next!
Beurre blancs are basically emulsions without the benefit of an emulsifier! This means there is a very fine line between a smooth stable sauce and a split oily one. You can give yourself a cheeky advantage by adding 100ml of double cream to the finished reduction and reducing by half, before adding the butter.
This will act as your stabiliser, as cream is a natural emulsion and will help keep your melted butter suspended in your liquid reduction!
This recipe is the perfect place to start your foray into the world of beurre blancs. But with a bit of practice and a bit more confidence, you will be amazed how you can adapt this recipe and technique to produce some truly unique sauces!
Try using other sharp fruit like limes or oranges, maybe reducing some ginger juice and throwing in some candied ginger. You can experiment with different wines and vinegars to see what results you get. You may need to adjust some of the quantities to balance the flavours, but just follow the same method and you will have perfect silky beurre blanc every time!