"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Beurre blanc? Me?

by Julie on May 18, 2013

in Good Ideas Gone Bad, Minor Miracles, Dinner


The fancy stuff

Long ago, back when I started this blog, I vowed never to start a blogpost by apologizing for a lack of activity.

But dang. It’s been a month. It’s like I’ve been distracted or something.

Let’s give this distraction a name. Let’s call him…Chef San Diego.

The other day we made some kind of fish with diced red and yellow peppers in a cardamom papaya beurre blanc sauce. “Just something simple.”

Well. He made it. I just drank wine and watched.

Beurre blanc, I said. That’s simple? Isn’t that, like, French?

Well, yes, but it’s really not that fancy, he said. Think of it as butter sauce. And you can flavor it with different things. Next time, he told me, you’ll make it.

I started laughing.

See, I’m not fancy. I love to eat of course, but I’m quite content with simple fare. And as for cooking, I don’t have any desire to go to culinary school or open a restaurant or test recipes or anything like that. Mostly I just want to be competent and be able to repeat good results over and over. As it stands now, I never know if something is going to turn out or not. There are techniques I’m supposed to learn and master.

Like this butter and wine sauce, for starters. Which sounds pretty dang fancy from where I sit.

Beurre blanc is an emulsified butter sauce without egg yolks or other binders. You make it with butter and white wine. Or you can make a beurre rouge with red wine. (using cream is cheating, apparently.)

Yeah. It’s scary and French and here’s how (I’m told) you make it:

For 1 cup (8 fl oz)…
2 fl oz white wine (red wine for rouge)
2 fl oz white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar for rouge)
1 T (a bit less than 1/2 oz) Shallots minced
8 oz Unsalted butter, whole (chilled, cut into 1 oz pieces – no need to be exact)
Kosher salt
White pepper
Reduce the shallot, wine, and vinegar in non-reactive (ie stainless) sauce pan at a simmer — not a boil (boiling makes wine go bitter. Reduce until “au sec” or almost dry. just a touch of liquid (no more than 1 T of liquid remaining)
Over low heat, whisk in butter one pat at a time. Keep sauce between 100 and 120 F

Once butter is incorporated, take off heat, strain and season with kosher salt and white pepper to taste. Use immediately. Otherwise you have to hold it in a water bath (a water bath!) or things get quickly funky..

No, of course it’s not heart-healthy. You don’t eat this every day. But it’s delicious on fish or chicken or anything, really.

So have I actually tried to make this yet, you ask? Well yes. Yes, I did.

And did it turn out? Well ..

Seriously? How long have you been reading this blog?

Lots of butter and lots of wine at my house. I’ll try it again and let you know…Once I get this down there are apparently all sorts of ways to flavor this, with various juices and things like ginger, chile, shoyu and lemon grass.

Holy crap I’m intimidated.

But because this guy likes me, and because this is all very new, he thinks I can do no wrong. And in cooking, understandably, he sees no reason I can’t level up.

I’m thinking perhaps not. But maybe I can learn? He does teach this stuff for a living. And to people a whole lot less bright than I am, to hear him tell it.

We’ll see. But I’m thinking this could be the beginning of some beautiful blog fodder.

Stay tuned…



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayna May 19, 2013 at 3:44 am

This sounds wonderful. When I was in my early 20’s, I waited tables at a “fancy” Italian restaurant. One of the signature sauces, especially with fish, was a white wine, butter, garlic sauce. Unfortunately, I never watched or asked how it was made… I wonder if it was a variation of this.


JulieR May 21, 2013 at 5:37 am

hmmmm, really trying to read between the lines here…


Lettie May 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Now that you have a chef boyfriend, you’re bound to change your blog from Bad home cook to Bad Ass Home cook!! Hmm, we’ll have to try making that beurre blanc one night…Tarragon beure blank over asparagus sounds yummy…If it’s an epic fail we’ll at least have some wine and dry asparagus for dinner..


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