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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Paint The Mother Pink

Bechamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Tomato, and Veloute are the five mother sauces of French cuisine from which many  sauces are broken down into derivative smaller sauces.  Hollandaise might the most popular and most difficult of the five to master because the delicate emulsion of egg yolks, lemon juice, and melted butter over simmering water can be tricky. Very tricky.

The smaller derivative sauces from Hollandaise are fascinating and fabulous. Adding cream, horseradish and fresh thyme turns Hollandaise into Sauce Bavaroise. Replacing lemon juice with fresh blood orange juice creates a lovely Sauce Maltaise (I've made tons of Maltaise...great on Grand Marnier marinated salmon). Whipped cream folded into a finished Hollandaise produces a light and airy Sauce Mousseline.

Sauce Bearnaise is probably the powerhouse of the  Hollandaise derivatives. Replacing lemon juice with a very concentrated reduction of white wine vinegar, white wine, fresh tarragon, peppercorns, and shallots elevates the sauce with bright anise undertones. Beranaise pairs beautifully with steak. With additions and tweeks, Bearnaise  sauce boasts a litany of variations. Adding tomato puree, tomato paste, or tomato concasse to the Bearnaise emulision produces a pink-hued Sauce Choron. Sauce Paloise is made by replacing  tarragon with mint.  Sauce Foyot has a meat glace folded into the Bearnaise, while Sauce Colbert is Sauce Foyot with  additional  reduced white wine.


I had a hankering for eggs benedict. Although I'm a fool for Hollandaise and Bearnaise, I wanted to tinker and try something a bit different for our  breakfast dinner last night. When I stumbled across sauce Choron, I was intrigued. Sandwiching  poached eggs between fresh tomato slices and a tomato-infused Bearnaise sauce seemed like a natural pairing. Sold.

I'll admit, most of the time I pull out the blender for safe fuss free versions of Hollandaise or Bearnaise.  Without risk of curdling or scrambling the egg yolks over low heat, blender sauces are fullproof. That being said, fueled by extra time on my hands along with a few glasses of wine, I happily plunged head first into the classic preparation of Bearnasie-based  sauce Choron.

To create the flavor base, I  sauteed 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of white wine, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon, and 10 Tellicherry peppercorns until the liquid reduced to 1 tablespoon before straining it into a small ramekin.

While the vinegar reduction cooled, I brought 3 egg yolks to room temperature and prepared the tomato paste. Ok, I had a tube of tomato paste in the refigerator. Nope. I wasn't feeling it. I also had an overripe windsill heirloom tomato that was a breath away  from exploding, so I roasted , peeled, and deseeded it before mashing the flesh into pulp and sauteeing it over low heat until the pulp reduced into an intensely aromatic tomato paste. Call me crazy.

After tossing 1 tablespoon of  the tomato paste, 3 tablespoons of water, egg yolks,  and tarragon vinegar  into a mixing bowl, I whisked the mixture over simmering water until the yolks were frothy.

Using a steady hand while furiously whisking the tomato-stained yolks over the steaming bath , I slowly drizzed 1 cup of melted unsalted butter into the yolks until the sauce pulled away from the bottom of pan , emulsified,  and turned  rosy pink.

I removed the sauce Choron from the heat, added fresh tarragon, took a deep breath, and chugged an entire glass of wine.

After parking the sauce over very low simmering water to hold,  I toasted English muffins, poached a few eggs, and sliced a a couple of tomatoes.

With everything ready to go, I stacked our very traditional eggs benedicts with toasted English muffins, sliced garden tomatoes, speck (smoked prosciutto), and poached eggs.  After ladling a very untraditional sauce Choron over the jiggly eggs, I dropped a few tarragon leaves over the top, seasoned everything with salt and cracked black pepper,  and nestled a lightly dressed baby arugula salad to the side.

It was insanely fabulous. Really. The sauce was velvety soft with a surprisingly light mouthfeel. The deeply reduced tomato paste tamed the normally tart anise brashness of the Bearnasie while providing complex layers of acidity and sweetness.  When sliced, runny yolks oozed from the tender poached eggs onto the speck and tomatoes, pooling around the muffins and mixing with the sauce. Crazy. Rich. Decadent.

Normally, I work very clean in the kitchen. Last night, I destroyed it. 

At some point during the night, Michael washed every pan and cleaned the kitchen.


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