Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Saucey Chef : Bernaise Mousseline

Learn the techniques, tips and recipe the Crimson Coat Chef has to offer

From the start one thing that I seemed to have a natural talent for and a joy for making was sauces. My classmates would boggle at my quick construction of a hollandaise over an open flame (I was in a rush, I wouldn't recommend this). Butter Sauces, sabayons, reductions, classic roux sauces - I've rarely followed recipes for these but gone by my own instinct. I just seem to know when the heat is just enough, if I think about it too much I end up with a split horrible mess on my hands. But if I just let it go I marvel every time at what I've managed to create.

So my first post I think will be on sauces.

Food education and expectations have soared in the last few years, so now the 'mother sauces' or leading sauces are practically common knowledge. But it is always a good starting point.


These are the five mother sauces as laid out by Escoffier and still taught today. There is of course argument that there are 7 leading sauces but we won't go there today.

In today's cuisine which pulls from so many countries not just the classic French this list is now pretty limited though one must understand that there are still literally hundreds of derivatives from these 5 base sauces.

My favorite sauces are emulsion sauces those derived from the Hollandaise and it's technique. And of all these it is the Bernaise Mousseline which I love to make, and to eat on a beautiful medium rare, dry aged rib eye steak.

A few tips on making Bernaise Mousseline Sauce:

The Bernaise begins with a reduction don't ever feel limited to the standard recipe below, just about any flavours can go into this reduction as long as you follow the basics of the acids and flavours needed.

The butter as well, just be creative! I've used compound butters to add a nice compliment to a bernaise. But never, ever use salted butter, not for a compound butter, not for sauces, not for cooking period. Learn to control the salt in your food yourself, often salted butter can actually add too much right from the get go.

Allow the bernaise to come right down to room temperature and I've found that the whipped cream should also sit to raise it's temperature you get to retain more volume this way.

When the bernaise cools to nearly the same temperature as the cream, and you're ready to serve you fold the whipped cream into the sauce as delicately as you can to retain as much air as possible.

Serve this over a nice steak with a side of pomme frites or roasted fingerling potatoes and a nice green vegetable like some sauteed swiss chard.

Okay so now the easy to follow recipe:

Bernaise Mousseline
2 Tbsp finely minced shallots
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
3 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb unsalted butter melted
3 egg yolks
3 Tbsp fresh Tarragon, minced
1/4 cup of 35% cream

In a small saucepan bring the shallots, wine, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaf, and 1 Tbsp of the tarragon to a simmer and allow to reduce down to 1.5 - 2 Tbsp of liquid. Allow to cool slightly.

Whisk in the egg yolks over a gentle heat if needed.

Start to whisk in the butter, very slowly at first just dribbles. As the emulsion comes together you can add it in as more of a trickle then a dribble.

Season and pass the sauce through a fine sieve if desired. Add remaining tarragon.

Allow this mixture to come to room temperature or hold over a lukewarm water bath if extended holding time is needed.

Whisk the cream to stiff peaks and then fold it in in stages (1/3 make 3-4 folds then another 1/3 etc) to the sauce.

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