Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chicken and Egg, Part Two: Easy Hollandaise (really)

How can anyone look at these chick pictures and not want to rush right out and start their own flock? Not me, obviously.....Before anyone asks, the chicks are in the box while I was cleaning out the brooder. The brooder is a pen for chicks to allow them to grow up safely and warmly until they are large enough to be introduced to the rest of the flock. The phrase "pecking order" is no small matter in a hen house and you want your little babies to thrive.

The second picture is from when I took the babies out for a little fun on a beautiful, sunny spring day. They piled up together and took a little nap before they got around to exploring. You can just see their feathers starting to come in on their little wings and replace the baby down. Too cute.

I started to call this recipe Hollandaise for Dummies after the popular book series, but it did not sit easily. So maybe it should be No Fail Hollandaise? You decide, but I do promise that absolutely anyone can make this sauce successfully. Hollandaise is traditionally used for eggs Benedict and can elevate a simple asparagus dish to a 5 star dish. Try it and see how you best like it. (As a disclaimer lest anyone think I am promoting buttery, rich sauces like another Southern Chef...this is a sauce to use occasionally.

To begin, you will need a few simple ingredients: 1 stick of butter, 3 eggs - the fresher and more natural the better - the color will be richer for free-range eggs (see part one for explanation) 1 lemon and either hot sauce or cayenne pepper. I generally use Tabasco but had to use cayenne this time.

adding all to butter
Take a smallish, microwave-safe bowl and place the stick of butter in it and then place the bowl in the microwave. Heat for 15-20 seconds until the butter is sorta melted. (Don't be intimidated by the technical gourmet language...) Crack the eggs and separate the yolks and place in the butter. Use the egg whites later...my Mom freezes them for angel food cake. I usually feed the dog or just toss...Take the lemon and roll it on the table while pressing down with your hand. This releases the juice from the membrane and makes it easier to squeeze. Slice in half and squeeze over the yolks and butter. Add a little of the hot sauce or cayenne . Go easy and if you would like more later, you can add it but you can't take it back...Mix it all up with a fork.

Now comes the hard part. Ha! Set the microwave for 45 seconds or so. Place the bowl back in the microwave  and push start. After 12 seconds...don't leave during this part...take out and beat with the fork. Repeat this until you have a thick sauce. You will start to see it thickening around the edge of the bowl. Take a close gander at the photos to see the stages.
finished sauce
edges starting to thicken

At the bistro, we make our own version of eggs Benedict. The traditional version layers Canadian bacon over a toasted English then a soft boiled egg topped with the hollandaise. In our version we take a base layer of grits and layer with ham (city ham, not country) place a egg over easy over the ham and top with the sauce. In the late fall and winter, I will put some garden-fresh spinach, or left-over cooked broccoli in the layers. In the spring, asparagus and in the summer......a slice of fresh tomato, simply sublime. For vegetarians, I will quickly saute some bell pepper, onion, mushroom and zucchini and use in place of the meat. I have also used leftover prime rib and when a customer comes back with a duck from hunt, I will layer with livers of duck breast. Play around and let me know what your favorite is. Until then, enjoy!


  1. Since my daughter loves to cook I'm going to give the recipe to her and let her try it. It does sound easy. I'll have her freeze the egg whites so I can use them when I make meringues. It'll be interesting to see if that works.

  2. I look forward to trying as well.
    Thanks Michelle for allowing me to make it your great way