Traditional bernaise has you simmering onions or golden shallots in vinegar before making the sauce. I’ve found this extra step really isn’t necessary. My cheat’s version gives you all the buttery goodness of bernaise sauce with minimum effort.
1 scant tablespoon sherry or wine vinegar
1 egg yolk
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
1. Place a little water in the base of a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
2. Mix vinegar and egg yolk in a heat proof bowl and place on top of the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water.
3. Add butter a few cubes at a time whisking almost constantly. Wait until the cubes have almost melted before adding the next.
4. Turn the heat off when you’ve added about 1/2 the butter and continue to add and whisk.
5. When all the butter is added, taste & season. Best to serve asap.
OK. It will keep in the fridge for a week or so. It will solidify in the fridge so you can either use it as a flavoured butter or to return it to ‘sauce’ consistency, gently reheat in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.
Variations for Serving Sizes
I tend to make a batch this size as a minimum but you could easily double or triple the recipe.
vegan – use a vegan mayonnaise as a sauce instead of the bernaise.
more traditional – increase the vinegar to 6 tablespoons and simmer 1/4 small red onion finely chopped in the vinegar until the vinegar has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Discard the onion and carry on as per the recipe.
less rich – replace half the butter with a neutral flavoured oil. Whisk the oil into the bernaise mixture a little at a time after the butter is added.
dairy-free – replace butter with neutral flavoured oil and change the name to mayonnaise.
short on time? – skip all the stirring and try my ‘cheats hollandaise’ recipe instead.
Waste Avoidance Strategy
vinegar – will keep in the pantry.
eggs – keep in the fridge for weeks if not months. Use for another meal if you need to keep them for longer.
unsalted butter – keeps in the fridge for months.
Problem Solving Guide
too bland? – add a little more salt and possibly some more vinegar.
can’t find sherry vinegar? – rice vinegar (also sold as rice wine vinegar) would be my next port of call or white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. Last resort would be red wine vinegar.
too sharp – if you’re finding it too much add in a little more oil or butter.
mixture separating or splitting – the trick to making egg based sauces like this is to add the butter very gradually in the beginning. The other cause of splitting with bernaise is if the mixture gets too hot. That’s why we make it in a water bath and remember to take the mixture off the heat when you’ve added 3/4 of the butter. If you do find the mixture starting to split, remove from the heat and plunge the bowl into a sink filled with cold water, add some more cold butter and whisk furiously – sometimes quick action can save the day. If it still curdles, start again with another egg in a clean bowl off the heat and gradually add the split mixture in one little spoon at a time.
I love to serve it on the side with a steak so everyone can help them selves to as little or as much as they like. I also love it with chips or frites. Can be used pretty much anywhere you’d use mayonnaise.
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