a food lover’s chronicle of all things culinary


Emulsion Sauces (Part 2 of 6)

June 20th, 2006

When Auguste Escoffier reclassified Caréme’s mother sauces, he replaced Allemande with egg-based emulsions and called them Hollandaise and Mayonnaise. In fact, this Mother Sauce encompasses all of the emulsified sauces such as Béarnaise, Russian salad dressing, and Aioli. An emulsion is a mixture of two unblendable substances. The emulsion sauces are mixtures of oil and water stabilized with egg yolk lecithin.

There are a number of disputed theories as to the origin of Mayonnaise. One story states the sauce was made by the chef of Louis François Armand du Plessis, duc de Richelieu in 1756, to celebrate the Duke’s victory over the British at the port of Mahon. Thus, sauce from Mahon is “sauce mahonnaise”. Antonin Caréme once speculated the name was derived from the French word manier, meaning to handle, feel, ply. It seems Caréme was struggling to come up with an etymology for the sauce. The more credible theory is that sauce Mayonnaise was originally named for Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne. The sauce may have been christened Mayennaise after he took the time to finish his chicken with cold sauce before being defeated by Henri IV in the Battle of Arques, 1589.

Hollandaise does not date as far back as Mayonnaise might. It was first seen in a cookbook by Mrs. Isabella Beeton in 1861. Alan Davidison, a renowned food writer, noted a “sauce á la hollandoise” from François Marin’s Dons de Comus (1758), but since that sauce included butter, flour, bouillon, and herbs, and no egg yolks, it is said to have Dutch, but is not what we know Hollandaise to be today. In 1651, François Pierre de La Varenne published a recipe calling for “good fresh butter, a little vinegar, salt, nutmeg, and an egg yolk to bind the sauce; take care that it does not curdle.” This would seem to be Hollandaise, but was never labeled as such.

Making Mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Combine the egg yolks, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl and beat well with a small wire whisk. Whisking continuously, add about a half cup of the oil, drop by drop until the mayonnaise has thickened and emulsified. Then whisk in the remaining oil in a thin, slow stream until the mayonnaise is smooth and thick. Whisk in the vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste.

If the sauce breaks, whisk in a teaspoon of cold water. If the sauce remains broken, whisk a teaspoon of the broken mayonnaise into a teaspoon of mustard in a warm dry bowl until creamy, then whisk in the remaining mayonnaise.

To make tartar sauce, add a tablespoon of pickle relish, a tablespoon of minced onion, and two tablespoons of lemon juice to one cup of mayonnaise.

To make Aioli, substitute garlic paste for the mustard and use olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

To make a good french fry dip, mix one part ketchup with two parts mayonnaise.

Making Hollandaise

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp boiling water
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Melt the butter and keep it warm.

Heat the lemon juice until just warmed. Have a small saucepan with boiling water and a measuring tablespoon ready at hand.

Place the top of a thin-bottomed metal mixing bowl over, not in, a saucepan of simmering hot water. Place the egg yolks in the mixing bowl and whisk until they begin to thicken. Add one tablespoon of the boiling water. Continue to beat the sauce until it beings to thicken. Repeat with remaining water, one tablespoon at a time, beating the mixture after each addition.

Add the warmed lemon juice and remove from heat. Beat the sauce briskly with a wire whisk. Continue to beat the mixture as you slowly pour in the melted butter. Add the salt and cayenne and beat until thick. Serve immediately.

To make Bearnaise sauce, substitute lemon juice for one tablespoon tarragon vinegar and one tablespoon sherry vinegar and add 1 finely chopped shallot. Season with 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped and one tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped.

Entry Filed under: History,How To,Sauce

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