Week 7: Hollandaise & Espagnole Sauces

Sauces are such an incredibly versatile thing.  You could make a wide variety of meals from the same basic poultry or meat just by changing the sauce.  You can make sauces to top vegetables and sides to switch things up.  You can add your own personal touch and make your own family favorites.

The hollandaise sauce is a more complicated sauce to make, but it sure is delicious.  The brown sauce, or sauce espagnole, has many, many derivatives (only a few are presented here) that can be used in a variety of ways.  You will learn how to make a demi glace and learn how to take the taste of your home cooked meals up a few notches by using it in more ways than you might think.

This week, consider making a hollandaise or one of the espagnole small sauces, like the classic steak sauce.  Or, challenge yourself to make a quality demi glace that you portion and keep in your freezer for when you need to add a quality kick of flavor to your meals.

Hollandaise sauce

This is a more complicated sauce, but the end result is worth it. A hollandaise sauce is a warm egg emulsion that is airy in texture, yet thick, rich and buttery.

There are 3 main ingredients: egg yolk, butter, and acid. The yolk helps protein and lecithin bind together and thicken the sauce. Use the freshest eggs you can. The butter produces a thick and stable sauce. Use unsalted, clarified butter if possible. Your acid can be lemon juice, white wine or wine vinegar. The acid is used primarily to flavor and balance the richness of the sauce.

To make 1-1/2 c sauce, you will want to use 2 large egg yolks, 1c clarified butter and acid (to taste).

How to make clarified butter: Clarified butter has had milk solids and water removed from it. Simply heat butter in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan over low heat. One pound of butter will equal about ¾ cups clarified butter. Slowly melt the butter to allow water to evaporate and milk solids to fall to the bottom. The milk solids are what causes butter to burn when heated too high. By removing them, the butter has a higher smoke point and can be used to cook food at higher temperatures. Once your butter has melted, skim off any foam and scoop out the clear butter. You can use the foam in other applications so it won’t go to waste. The clarified butter will last for weeks in your fridge.

How to make gastride: We will discuss gastride in a moment. This can be the acid used in your sauce – it is more flavorful than a plain acid such as lemon juice or white wine on its own because it has been reduced to concentrate the flavors. The gastride can be used to flavor and stabelize the sauce. You can start with acidic ingredietn such as wine vinegar, white wine, lemon juice, or any other acidic ingredient. To start, place acid in a small pan with any aromatics of choice. Aromatics, such as shallots, garlic, herbs, and spices can be added to infuse more flavor into the gastride. If your acid reduces quickly, you may add a splash of water to extend the process long enough to get the full flavor extracted from your aromatics. Gently simmer the contents of your pan until the liquid has reduced by half. Cool the liquid before using in your dish, or it may cause curdling or splitting. Strain aromatics once cooled. You can make these reductions ahead of time to store in the fridge until needed.

Steps to making a hollandaise sauce:

  1. Create a sabayon. A sabayon is a frothy emulsion made by whisking egg yolks into cold water or acid over low heat. To do this, you will need to gether a pot, stainless steel bowl and whisk.

  2. Fill your pot with a few inches of water , bring to a simmer and set the bowl on top to create a double boiler. The bowl should not come into contact with the water.

  3. Place the egg yolks in the bowl.

  4. Add cold liquid – about 1 tablespoon of cold liquid/acid/gastride per egg yolk.

  5. With the bowl off the heat, whisk the mixture quickly to incorporate air. The more air incorporated into the mixture, the more fluffy it will be.

  6. Once egg mixture is light and frothy, you can return the bowl to the pan.

  7. Begin whisking vigorously. Try to avoid splashing the liquid and getting egg on the side of the bowl because as the bowl heats, the egg may overcook and cause lumps. If this happens, your bowl is too hot. Quickly remove from heat and continue whisking to avoid continued cooking of the egg. Once it has cooled a bit, return bowl back to sauce pan. Remember to keep water at a simmer. Adjust heat as necessary. If your eggs curdle, you will need to start over.

  8. When: your egg mixture has doubled in volume and is thick and creamy; you can see tracks on the bottom of the bowl as you whisk; the mixture is suspended on the whisk without dripping off, and when drizzled the resulting egg mixture forms a ribbon, your mixture is done with this phase.

  9. When the sabayon has reached the desired thickness, remove the bowl from heat and continue whisking for about 20 seconds to prevent overcooking from residual heat.

  10. Now is time to add clarified butter. Use about ½ c butter per egg yolk, but keep some extra warmed butter on hand in case it is needed.

  11. Remove the water from the sauce pan that you simmered to make the sabayon. Place a warm, damp cloth over the top of the pan, then place the bowl of sabayon over the pan. The residual heat will keep the sauce warm, and the cloth helps keep the bowl from sliding around as you add in the butter.

  12. Drizzle the butter in while whisking vigorously. Once you see the butter dissapear into the sauce, it is safe to add more. If you add too much, it will cause the sauce to cool down too much so be careful. As you add the butter, the sauce will thicken. This is ok – additional liquid can be added at the end to thin it out of necessary. Avoid whisking in any lumps that are on the sides of the bowl.

    • It is important to note that if you notice butter fat on top of your sauce, it is at risk of splitting. Add a couple drops of cold water or an acid and whisk again to help keep the emulsion stable, then continue adding butter. If the sauce quickly goes from thick to thin, it has split. The good news is, it is often fixable.

  1. Continue adding butter until the sauce is quite thick and sticks well to a spoon.

  2. Once the sauce has been made, it needs to be finished and seasoned. If it was started with water, the acid still needs to be added. Lemon juice can be whisked in until desired flavor is reached. Or, white wine or gastride. Keep tasting and adding until you have reached the right consistency and taste. If the flavor is correct but the sauce is too thick, add a bit of cold water to thin it out. If too much acid has been added, add a bit more warm butter to mellow the flavor.

  3. Season with salt.

The sauce should be pale yellow and shiny. Final consistency should be thick, yet airy. If you were to pour it over an egg shell, it should hold its shape nicely and won’t spread so thin it becomes overly transparent.

Hollandaise is best served immediately. It is a warm sauce and cannot be served hot, or it will split. If it’s poured over very hot food, it will split. Don’t store the sauce for more than an hour. To keep the sauce warm, keep it in a double boiler on its lowest setting. Keep plastic wrap over the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Whisk occasionally to keep it from getting too thick.

Water vs gastride in your sabayon

Water tends to create a fluffier sabayon. Its easier to control the level of acidity of the sauce because its seasoned at the end. For a more intense flavor a gastride can be used in place of water. Acid, when added at beginning, can tighten proteins in the yolks and makes it a bit less fluffy. This can result in a heavier sauce. If gastride is overly acidic it is hard to adjust flavor at the end. More butter can be added, but if you add too much you can split the sauce. The key is to watch and taste often. Taste the gastride as you are making it to make sure it isn’t too intense.

Hollandaise is often served with the breakfast Eggs Benedict, or served over warm vegetables and fish. It does have many derivatives and the taste can be switched considerably when you consider how many ways you can flavor the gastride or vary the acids and aromatics used.

Sauce Espagnole

Sauce Espagnole is the traditional ‘brown sauce’ and is used as the base for many sauces. It stems from a basic brown stock. The following recipe makes about 2 cups. From what I have gleaned, a “brown stock” consists of both veal or beef bones. You can use a dark stock of veal, beef, or even venison though. Chicken stock, while it can also be made ‘dark’ by roasting the bones and vegetables, lacks the gelatin that makes this sauce so special. Sauce Espagnole on it’s own is not often used on meals its self, but is a starting point for a wide variety of small sauces.

**Note: There is a lot of reference to reducing a sauce by one half, one fourth, etc. To get an idea of what this looks like, until you develop an eye for it, use a ruler. Stick it in your pan and measure where your liquid comes up to when you begin and determine where it needs to be once fully reduced to where you need it. Measure a few times during the process so you can get a feel for how quickly liquid will reduce.


  • ½ c onion, diced
  • ¼ cup carrots, diced
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 oz clarified butter
  • 1 oz all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups brown stock
  • 2 Tbsp tomato purée

Bouquet Garni:

  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Create a bouquet garni of 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of fresh thyme and 3 sprigs of parsley. Tie them together with kitchen twine and set aside.

  2. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt butter until it is frothy.

  3. Add diced vegetables and saute a few minutes until lightly browned. Watch closely as they begin to brown to ensure they don’t brown, or they will lend a bitter taste to your final sauce.

  4. Store the flour into the vegetables, a little at a time until it is fully incorporated and forms a thick paste. This is your roux.

  5. Cook your roux gently over low heat and cook until light brown, about 5 minutes or so. Again, watch closely and don’t let it burn.

  6. Slowly add the stock and tomato puree, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.

  7. Bring mixture to a boil, add bouquet garni, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 30-50 minutes or so (allow more time if you are making more than this recipe calls for) – until the sauce has reduced by about one-third to one-half. You can insert a ruler before you begin the simmering process to see where you started, and measure the reduction a few times until it gets to where you want it. Skim any impurities that may rise to the surface during this time.

  8. Remove pan from heat and take out the bouquet garni. You may pour the sauce through a mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth for a smooth consistency.

  9. Serve warm.

Recipe for Demi-Glace

*Note: I have found that many modern chefs prefer a reduction of brown stock (called Glace de Viande ) to the following demi glace because the flavor is so much more concentrated without added thickeners that may dilute the flavor. If you do make a reduction just from dark stock, thicken it to a syrup-like consistency then chill. The gelatin from the bones (best bones would be the shank from veal if you can) extracted into the sauce should thicken the mixture to a jello like consistency which you can then cut and freeze for future use as soup base or add water to create stock for a soup or sauce without having to store larger quantities of stock.

Demi glace is used to add richness and flavor to your sauces and gravies, body to your braises and stews, flavor to your soups. This really takes average home cooking up a notch. You can make it in bulk and freeze for future use. Use a tablespoon or two of this when deglazing a pan for a pan sauce. Add to stir frys for a new level of flavor and velvety flavor. Dilute in water to create a stock if you have run out. The possibilities are endless when it comes to how to use a demi glace. Keep in mind, glace de viande can be used exactly the same way. The demi-glace is reduced to half of its original volume, so it is still quite loose compared to Glace de Viande)

  • 1 cup brown stock

  • 1 cup Espagnole sauce

  • 1 bouquet garni (see brown sauce recipe)

  • salt and pepper

Combine the above in a heavy bottomed pot. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture is reduced by half. To track progress, insert a ruler at the beginning of your cooking to get an initial measurement, then measure at intervals until you have reduced the liquid by half. Skim occasionally. This may take 1-1/2 hours or so. Season with salt and pepper at the end. Strain.

**Take care that your original brown stock and/or espagnole sauce has not been salted much, if at all, before beginning this process. The concentration of liquids and flavors will also concentrate the salt, making it very salty.

  • Bordelaise Sauce – Classic steak sauce: Place 1 cup red wine, 2 minced shallots, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, pinch of thyme and 1/2 bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and cook for about 30 minutes or until reduced by about three-fourths. Add 1 quart Demi-glace (see above) and simmer for 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and strain through strainer lined with cheesecloth. If you have Glace de Viande, stir in 2 tablespoons. Finally, cut 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and drop them, one at a time, into the sauce while stirring constantly to combine. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 cups.

  • Madeira Sauce – Great served over poultry, beef, lamb and waterfowl: Place 1 quart Demi-glace in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook until reduced by half, 30-45 minutes. . Add 1/4 cup Madeira Wine, stirring to combine. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and stir them in one at a time until melted. Serve warm. Makes about 4 cups.

  • Mushroom Sauce: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add 1 minced shallot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms and continue sautéing until brown. Add 1 quart Demi-glace and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon dry sherry and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Serve warm. Makes about 4 cups.

  • Sauce Robert –Great for pork and meat: Saute ½ c chopped onion in 2tb butter over medium heat until soft and translucent – but don’t let them develop color. Add 1c white wine, heat until boiling then lower the heat and simmer until reduced by two-thirds. Add 1 quart of demi-glace, bring to a simmer and reduce for another 10 minutes. Finally, strain the sauce through a cheesecloth lined strainer and add ½ tsp sugar, 2 tsp dry mustard powder, and 1 tsp lemon juice. Stir well to combine and serve warm.

  • Chasseur – “Hunters Sauce” great for rabbit, venison and other wild game: Begin by heating 2tb butter over medium heat until frothy. Add ¼ c shallots and 1 c sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft and shallots are translucent – about five minutes. Add 1 c white wine, heat until boiling then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by ¾. Add 1 quart of demi glace, then 1 cup diced tomatoes. Simmer for five minutes, add 1tb chopped, fresh parsley and serve warm.


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