Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Beurre blanc is a hot butter sauce made from a vinegar and shallot reduction to which butter is added. Apparently, the origin is that a chef in the Loire Valley forgot to use eggs and Tarragon when making a Béarnaise sauce for a fish dish he was serving at a dinner held by the Marquis de Goulaine. The sauce was an instant hit and was named beurre blanc on the spot!

Ingredients for a Basic Beurre Blanc:

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (can be replaced by the juice of one lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 to 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan combine vinegar, wine and shallots. Over low to medium heat reduce mixture to about 1 tablespoon of a jam like substance. Over low heat add cold butter in a spoon size at a time while whisking continually. Continue to add, butter quickly, barely allowing for previously added butter to melt. Whatever you do, work quickly and pay attention to the temperature. Overheat the sauce and it will separate, leave it too long and it settles and instead of frothy you get flat.

If you are looking for a fine sauce strain the beurre blanc but I quite like getting the shallot with the sauce. You can at this point serve the sauce over asparagus or almost any fish. There are however, loads of methods of making beurre blanc more interesting. Dijon mustard is a classic recipe as is truffle and cream. Muscadet instead of white wine is an Anjou version and in Nantes it is made with fish stock.

Beurre Blanc Genovaise is this rather interesting version:

  • 4 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 250 ml water
  • 250 ml dry red wine
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter

You make this exactly in the same way as the basic sauce but obviously with a lot more ingredients. I had this in the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva over Salmon and it was excellent.

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