Hollandaise, Béarnaise, Mayonnaise, Beurre Blanc and Sabayon all have one thing in common – besides being delectable they are all emulsions. An emulsion is the stable distribution of microscopic droplets of one liquid in another liquid with which it normally does not mix with the use of an emulsifying agent such as egg yolk.
Warm emulsified emulsions like Sauce Hollandaise and Béarnaise are made by whisking egg yolks and a liquid together in a bowl over a simmering pot of hot water. The sauce is delicate and the heating of the bowl cooks the egg yolks slowly while you whisk them to a thick consistency. At this point the sauce is considered a Sabayon – after you add clarified butter (or another fat) it becomes Hollandaise and Béarnaise depending how you season it.
A cold emulsified sauce basically is created the same way without heating the egg yolks. Here the addition of vinegar provides an acidity to help prevent bacteria. However, Mayonnaise must be chilled properly to ensure it stays uncontaminated.
These classic sauces are delicate and take time to master correctly. Other cold emulsified sauces include Aïoli (a delicious garlicky Mayonnaise), Rémoulade and Rouille.
Chef showed us how to make Gravlax a few classes ago, he showed us how much moisture drained from the salmon from the cure he prepared - the salmon cured for 2 days in the refrigerator. Chef unwrapped the salmon, brushed off the cure and herbs and started to cut very delicate slices. As a treat, we had some freshly baked bread (from the Artisanal Bread Baking class), a slice or two of the Gravlax topped with a spoonful of Sauce Béarnaise – it was heaven – fantastic subtle flavor and the addition of the Béarnaise that I made was so incredibly delicious!
Lastly, duck confit – in two parts. First, the duck legs need to be cured with salt and spices and left to sit in the refrigerator to release moisture. Confit is basically cooking the duck in its rendered fat – that’s part two. Stay tuned!