Hollandaise is a perfect little creation, a bright, tart and smooth sauce that transforms whatever it tops.
Hollandaise is Good On…
Check out this bacon-wrapped filet with crab, asparagus and hollandaise from Taste of Texas. There’s a lot of asparagus and hollandaise on that plate, isn’t there?
A hollandaise classic is Eggs Benedict, of all kinds. I did one with jalapeños in the hollandaise as a Father’s Day dinner for the Grill-Meister a few years ago.
In London, I had a gorgeous Benedict-like dish in which spinach was topped with the poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise.
At Fielding’s, a local restaurant, the hollandaise totally covered the eggs. Their hollandaise was on the thicker side, like the batch I made today to create this post.
Hollandaise is also great on blackened fish, like this dish from Rio Ranch in Houston.
I put hollandaise on this crazy little salad I made by pairing broccoli and hard-boiled eggs.
“Hollandaise Can Smell Fear”
Making hollandaise can be a little intimidating, though, especially if you’re a new cook. That’s probably why grocery stores try to lure unsuspecting people into buying pre-made hollandaise, or a mix in a package. To me, they’re FAUX hollandaise. (You’ve heard me rant about this before.)
Trying to decipher the traditional stovetop double-boiler method, whisking like crazy and streaming butter at the same time usually comes with prayers that the sauce doesn’t “break” (separate), because often, it does. In fact, one cook has created a t-shirt about it, which makes me smile.
It’s Actually Quite Easy in the Microwave
Hollandaise can actually be quite easy, though. You can make it in the microwave in a couple of simple steps. I was really lucky in my hollandaise education because when I got my first microwave in the mid-80s, and it came with a cookbook. I was in my early 20s and a very ambitious cook…remind me to tell you about the time I left a burnt spot on my apartment ceiling from getting a little over-zealous with a flaming spinach and bacon salad.
Back to the hollandaise! The microwave cookbook had a hollandaise recipe, and this is my version of it, not written down anywhere until now, just made hundreds of times, almost by muscle memory. While this is a truly non-traditional approach, it’s got the fundamental ingredients, and it works.
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (juice from 1/2 to whole lemon, to taste)
- 3 egg yolks
- optional: pinch of red pepper or white pepper, pinch of salt
Put butter in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup, and heat in the microwave on medium-high heat until it is just melted (not bubbling). This may take anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork.
Add 1 tbsp lemon juice (or the juice of half of a lemon) to the butter and stir with the fork.
Add the egg yolks to the butter and lemon in the glass measuring cup and beat like crazy with the fork for about 15 seconds. Then put the mixture back into the microwave on medium-high for 12 seconds. Remove it, beat it again, and heat for another 12 seconds, then remove and beat it again. The hollandaise is done when it starts to set around the edges of the measuring cup, because it will continue to thicken from the heat of the glass. Depending on the strength of your microwave, you may need to repeat the heating and beating for up to a minute.
Taste the hollandaise and add more lemon juice if it isn’t tart enough for you. If it is too thick for your liking, you can add a little cold water, more lemon juice, or white wine.
The hollandaise will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat very gently, in the microwave, on the lowest power setting.
Notes, Observations and Variations
- The only thing you can do to mess up this sauce is microwave it for too long. I’ve done that a time or two! If it breaks (curdles or separates), you can probably fix it by whipping in some cold water or white wine, unless the eggs are cooked. If it is not fixable, dogs really like it. 😉
- The sauce is very versatile! You can add so many things to it to jazz it up – Tabasco or Sriracha, chopped green chiles, pico de gallo (I know, it sounds weird, but trust me), a little bit of chopped cilantro or parsley, or some Old Bay or my Zippy Cajun seasoning. Adding lemon zest will really amp up the tartness; the same with horseradish or dijon mustard.
- You can also make it béarnaise-like by using white wine instead of lemon and adding dried tarragon, or you could go all the way to true béarnaise by adding sautéed shallots.
- Even if I only need a little bit of hollandaise (i.e., I’m alone, and I’m having broccoli with hollandaise for dinner), I make a whole batch, because it keeps very well. And you never know what you might have tomorrow that needs a bit of hollandaise to brighten it up! Perhaps your boss takes you to lunch and you order a steak that you can only eat half of – leftover hollandaise will be fabulous on it tomorrow!
- The hollandaise can vary in thickness depending on how long you microwave it. If you are planning add-ins with more liquid, the thicker end of done is better. Or if you want it to be a bed of sauce rather than pouring atop something, like in my photo below. Those are risotto cakes on a bed of the hollandaise I made for this post. It’s on the thick side, more like a spread than a sauce, and mighty good.