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Hollandaise Secret: Use Clarified Butter!


phan1
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OK, I don't know who started this thing about being able to use regular stick butter instead of clarified butter, but I have to say I totally disagree with the idea. As a simple, amateur enthusiast, I love taking generally accepted shortcuts, but this shortcut almost ruined Hollandaise for me.

The problem was that I was getting this "heady" note from the butter (typical Land O Lakes). It's hard to describe the "heady" note, but it's like a taste that would give you a headache if you consumed too much of it at once. This heady note was transferred into the sauce the hollandaise sauce that I made, and it was pretty unappealing. Not bad, but it did create an off taste to me. I thought maybe a better brand of butter would do the trick, but it didn't.

Then I clarified the butter and it tastes SO MUCH better. The "heady" note I described was reduced greatly. Honestly, I'm on the verge of using clarified butter for everything now. It just tastes so much better than regular butter. They taste different! Why would people think you could substitute one for the other, especially when it's the butter that plays the main course!

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I find that Hollandaise made with clarified butter tastes like some frenchified version of that fake butter they put on popcorn at movies, and lacks appropriate satin in its body.

Maybe you just don't like butter that much.

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Do you get the smooooooth of it with the clarified butter? I've never tried it that way, and associate the clarified with oil, not the silky, satiny effect of laying that butter, piece by piece, into the bowl as you whisk, watching the expansion and the thickening and seeing the glorious golden clouds develop.

And how can a classic, original recipe be a "shortcut."

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I always use melted whole butter and add the milk solids as I see fit. I find that it gives it a more rounded flavor. Clarified butter is ok, but it just tastes too one dimensional to me.

Just be careful with the amount of water you add since the whole butter has some water in it--if you aren't careful the sauce can become too thin.

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Well, you could argue that there are times to use clarified butter and times not to.

Clarified butter doesn't taste as good as whole butter. And it has no water content, so the sauce will be denser (more like mayo). For a normal hollandaise most would consider this a flaw. But if you're making a hollandaise family sauce with a liquid infusion (like bearnaise) then you pretty much have to use clarified butter, or the sauce will be too runny.

Another option is melted whole butter. This won't form as stable an emulsion as solid whole butter that's whisked in, but it will give you the airiest texture, because you don't have to work it as hard (which deflates the sabayon). Melted whole butter gives you better flavor than clarified.

And solid whole butter does work well, if you use good technique (forget the double boiler and throw it together fast on medium to medium-high heat). You'll have the most stable foam this way.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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water you add

? :huh:

You add water to your Hollandaise?

Hi,

I always use a Tbsp of cold water / yolk to make a sabayon, before adding clarified butter.

I have wanted to use the milk solids to replace the water. I do want to try that.

Tim

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I use solid butter and medium heat, and frantic whisking. I've had fewer fiascos using this technique than using the classic melted butter drizzling approach. The "just in time" melting makes it easier to keep the emulsion stable than the two-handed pour/whisk technique requires.

Typically I try to use good, fresh butter. Many standard supermarket butters in the US have a flavor/aroma that I don't love, so I tend to use something better than that, but not necessarily artisan. Even Kerrygold works well enough.

I've worked with clarified butter for hollandaise, and although I love clarified butter for many things, I find it not quite as luscious as the emulsion from butter. I'd certainly not decline it when someone else is cooking, but I've had better results from butter.

I, too, use a bit of water mixed with the citrus juice (lemon or yuzu), usually close to 1:1 water to citrus, sometimes less water if I'm using sweeter lemons like Meyer. I'm adding it along with the lemon juice, after warming the egg yolk(s) in the pan.

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For practical reasons, the professional kitchens I've worked in, always use clarrified butter. Line stations always have clarrified butter containers constantly fed throughout service. Butter balls, pats and curls that are leftover from the diningroom are recycled and used as clarrified butter for service.

In a pinch, I would use melted whole butter but the whey is held back depending on the consistency and final use, ie. as a glacage on fish or as a bearnaise sauce.

What I am waiting to see is someone explaining which method is actually the classical way and not what they prefer. I've already checked a number of recipes online and came up with softened butter, clarrified butter and whole melted butter.

From a working cook's point of view, clarrified or at least melted whole butter is the best method.

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What I am waiting to see is someone explaining which method is actually the classical way and not what they prefer. I've already checked a number of recipes online and came up with softened butter, clarrified butter and whole melted butter.

I don't have Careme's cookbook ... Escoffier says to use softened or melted whole butter.

Notes from the underbelly

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water you add

? :huh:

You add water to your Hollandaise?

Yeah I do. Whenever I make an emulsion (except for a vinaigrette) I always start with a little water. Water is the continuous phase of the emulsion, eggs are approx. 2/3 fat, the little bit of water in the initial stages helps ensure the fat is being dispersed in the water molecules. Lemon juice or a vinegar reduction can obviously be used in this way, but I prefer to start with a little of both then adjust accordingly when I am finishing the sauce.

Besides, we're talking like a tablespoon or so of warm water--or less, depending on the size of my batch. Makes little difference in the eventual outcome of the sauce in terms of flavor, but is very helpful in making the emulsion more stable, especially in the early stages.

My point was that if you add milk solids as well as butter fat to the sauce, you had better be careful with your water addition (if you choose to do so) so that your sauce is not too thin, since the milk solids contain the water in the butter mixture. There can be a danger of the sauce getting too thin when using melted and/or whole butter as opposed to clarified, which has been removed of it's water.

As I stated, I feel that clarified butter is too "one dimensional" to make a truly great butter emulsion sauce. The round, creamy part of the butter is missing when just simply using clarified.

The one exception to this rule of mine is brown butter hollandaise sauce. Since, by the time the butter is browned the butter has, in effect, clarified, I technically use clarified butter for this type of hollandaise. I think that the added complexities that the browning brings makes up for the lack of the whole butter flavor in the sauce. And if no one has ever tried a b.b. hollandaise before, I suggest you try it sometime. It's quite good, IMO. Doesn't necessarily replace traditional hollandaise sauce for things like benedicts, but can add a surprising touch to a classic like, say, asparagus.

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I've noticed (when using melted butter), that the milk solids on the top seem to thin the sauce and the clarified thickens. Before you call me crazy, I'm saying that the difference isn't night and day, but when I'm ladling in from a warm 1/6 pan, I try to keep a balance of solids and fat depending on how the sauce is looking at the given time.

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I've noticed (when using melted butter), that the milk solids on the top seem to thin the sauce and the clarified thickens.  Before you call me crazy, I'm saying that the difference isn't night and day, but when I'm ladling in from a warm 1/6 pan, I try to keep a balance of solids and fat depending on how the sauce is looking at the given time.

Thats because the solids also hold the water for the butter. You have to be careful how much of them you add or how much lemon juice/water you add. When you add the solids you aren't really adding fat (which thickens the emulsion).

But you are right, that is exactly what happens. If it gets too thin you can always ladle in a little more of the butter fat.

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The idea of not using clarified butter for Hollandaise or Bearnaise these days reminds me of calling reduced stock demi-glace rather than going through the trouble to make stock, then Espagnole sauce then combining and reducing and adding Sherry just like Escoffier said!

doc

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The idea of not using clarified butter for Hollandaise or Bearnaise these days reminds me of calling reduced stock demi-glace rather than going through the trouble to make stock, then Espagnole sauce then combining and reducing and adding Sherry just like Escoffier said!

doc

The implication that it is somehow lazy or incorrect to not use clarified butter is wrong. Careme's method was to use whole butter whisked into the warm eggs. Escoffier's method was either clarified or whole butter.

Whether or not a reduced stock should be called demi glace is another discussion, but the whole butter (either melted or or cold) is a classical method. I looked it up in McGee by the way.

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The implication that it is somehow lazy or incorrect to not use clarified butter is wrong. Careme's method was to use whole butter whisked into the warm eggs. Escoffier's method was either clarified or whole butter.

Seems more likely that using clarified butter is the lazy way, based on Fugu's post.

The decision in at least some commercial kitchens seems to be based on convenience: they happen to have a ton of clarified butter at the ready.

If flavor or texture is your priority (and if you're not adding addtional liquid, as you would for a bearnaise family sauce) then there's no reason I can imagine for using clarified butter.

Notes from the underbelly

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Seems more likely that using clarified butter is the lazy way, based on Fugu's post.

The decision in at least some commercial kitchens seems to be based on convenience: they happen to have a ton of clarified butter at the ready.

If flavor or texture is your priority (and if you're not adding addtional liquid, as you would for a bearnaise family sauce) then there's no reason I can imagine for using clarified butter.

Lazy? Far from it, this is the method that was taught my school. Granted, this school is not a CIA or a Johnson And Wales but would you call Alain Ducasse and Michel Roux, who uses clarified butter and goes through the process of even strainning the solids out, lazy? This method gives you a product that is a blank canvas to work with, in essence, a classic mother sauce.

Edited by Fugu (log)
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Lazy? Far from it, this is the method that was taught my school. Granted, this school is not a CIA or a Johnson And Wales but would you call Alain Ducasse and Michel Roux, who uses clarified butter and goes through the process of even strainning the solids out, lazy? This method gives you a product that is a blank canvas to work with, in essence, a classic mother sauce.

If a kitchen is using the sauce as a blank canvas (in other words, to be seasoned with liquid flavorings, as with bearnaise family sauces) then I agree with you that clarified butter is the best option. I've already said so.

But if we're talking about straight hollandaise, and it's being used for reasons you described earlier ...

"For practical reasons, the professional kitchens I've worked in, always use clarrified butter. Line stations always have clarrified butter containers constantly fed throughout service"

... then it sounds like the priority is on convenience, not flavor or texture.

Notes from the underbelly

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In a pinch, I would use melted whole butter but the whey is held back depending on the consistency and final use, ie. as a glacage on fish or as a bearnaise sauce.

There is also this part of my post, where you took that quote from. So, clearly, I am consistent in my method and not being lazy. I still use melted butter when there is none left for service.

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Clarified/whole butter aside, is there a discussion here about methods/recipes for making Hollandaise? I use my mom's technique, which is basically two yolks per stick of butter, half a lemon (she uses more) and whisk on low heat, no double-boiler, no water.

But I would love to hear other methods. Also, I melted my butter the last time I made it, drizzling it into the yolk/lemon mixture as a whisked. It was delicious but had to be served within 20 minutes or so (which, isn't that the way it should be?)

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There is also this part of my post, where you took that quote from. So, clearly, I am consistent in my method and not being lazy. I still use melted butter when there is none left for service.

Fugu, I'm sorry if I came of as calling you lazy; it wasn't my intent. I was just taking your word for it that many restaurant kitchens do it the way you described (with clarified butter) for the reasons you described (convenience).

Notes from the underbelly

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I was just taking your word for it that many restaurant kitchens do it the way you described (with clarified butter) for the reasons you described (convenience).

another one of my posting faux pas. there is no need for the apology.

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