Beurre Blanc is a white, velvety butter sauce which originated in France. It has only 3 ingredients and cooks up fast. Shallots are reduced in vinegar and butter is emulsified in the reduction. It is a bold but light sauce that is great with fish, chicken and vegetables. A real French classic from the Loire Valley.
I am quite smitten with French food. It’s the classic basis for Western cuisine. You probably cook French food without realizing it.
Have you ever made biscuits and gravy or mac and cheese from scratch? The gravy and cheese sauces are classic French sauces. We have the French to thank for some of our cuisine in the US.
I am loving my cookbook collection, especially the French ones. The first one I ever had was Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I love the story telling the ladies did around the recipes, especially the instructions. It feels like Julia is cooking there right along side of you.
I also love La Mere Brazier: The Mother of Modern French Cooking. This is an English translation of an old cookbook from a famous female chef in Lyon, France. Eugenie Brazier was the first woman to earn 3 Michelin stars and the first chef ever to earn 6. She transformed Lyon into a gastronomical destination. Madame Brazier leaves some of the translation to the reader by leaving some of her instructions vague. I have learned a lot reading her book and enjoyed making Gratin de Macaronis.
My most recent acquisition was from a second hand store, which is where I get 95% of my cookbooks. It’s like a treasure hunt and I hit gold on this particular trip. French Classics Made Easy by Richard Grausman is a fabulous cookbook. He explains the why’s and he gives you ideas on how to be creative with his recipes. If you are a new cook or are a bit uneasy at the thought of cooking French food, this book is a good one to start with. His detailed, step-by-step instructions are just what I need when I am learning something new.
Today’s recipe is adapted from French Classics Made Easy. It is called Beurre Blanc, a classic white, velvety butter sauce that has only 3 ingredients for the basic variation. You have the option to add herbs after the vinegar reduction. Yep, vinegar! Who knew vinegar, shallots and butter could be soooooo good?! I didn’t.
This sauce was invented in the Loire Valley, France at the beginning of the 20th century. Legend has it that it was an accident. The chef was attempting to make a bernaise sauce but forgot to add the tarragon and egg yolk. Oh chefs!
I served this sauce on poached cod (the last picture). Poaching is easy and doesn’t stink up your kitchen. The firmer fishes can stand up to poaching, I don’t think I would try this on Tilapia but if you do, let me know how it turned out. To poach fish simply simmer enough water in a large skillet or dutch oven to barely cover the fish. You want the water to barely simmer, otherwise the motion from a boil could tear your fish apart. Just simmer for 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. I add a little vinegar or lemon juice to the water, this helps if your fish isn’t very fresh.
I used red shallots because that is all my market had which gave my sauce a pinkish hue.
A velvety white butter sauce from France. Great for fish, chicken and vegetables.
2 shallots, minced, preferably yellow
1/2 cup white vinegar
16 Tbs butter, preferably at room temperature
In a medium saucepan, add first two ingredients and cook on medium low until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. At this point you may add optional herbs.
Turn off heat and add butter in 1 Tbs increments. Add the butter just before the one before the one before melts, continuously stirring or whisking.
Keep sauce warm until serving in a warm water bath.
Overheating this sauce will cause it to separate. You will lose the velvety texture of the sauce and you will end up with shallot flavored ghee. You can add cream when you add butter to help stabilize is you wish. I did not have any trouble with this sauce.