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TIP OF THE DAY: Beurre Blanc, Beurre Noir & Beurre Noisette

Yesterday we wrote about LoveTheWild, a line of frozen fish entrées with pats of flavored butter (compound butter) that melt into a sauce.

The concept of compound butter comes from French cuisine, but French butter sauces don’t stop there.

Today, we take on three butter preparations that are used as sauces—sauces that you can easily make to spruce up your evening meal. You don’t need a lot of it to add richness to your dish.

There are other French butter-based sauces, of course: Check them out in our Butter Glossary.
 
 
BEURRE BLANC & BEURRE ROUGE (WHITE AND RED BUTTER SAUCES)

French for white butter, beurre blanc is a hot emulsified butter sauce made popular in Loire Valley cuisine. There it is made with Muscadet, the region’s best-selling white wine, which has been made since the late 16th or early 17th century.

The ingredients of beurre blanc—and the other sauces in this article—are simple:

  • White wine.
  • Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  • Shallots.
  • Chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, basil, parsley or chives.
  • Optional: bay leaf and peppercorns.
  •  
    It is a popular sauce for fish and shellfish, including poached fish and Coquilles Saint-Jacques; as well as vegetables, such as asparagus. With the latter, a splash of tarragon vinegar or a bit of fresh tarragon is added——not part of the original recipe, nor are any fresh herbs. Nor are the bay leaf and peppercorns added by some cooks (photo #1).

    To make the emulsion, cold, whole butter is blended into the hot reduction of wine and vinegar. It is similar to the mother sauce hollandaise in concept, but is considered neither a mother sauce nor a compound butter.

    Beurre rouge, a variant of beurre blanc sauce, is made by substituting a dry red wine for the white wine and red wine vinegar for the white wine vinegar. The red wine supplies color and more of a tang.

    Here’s a recipe for beurre blanc.

    Some beurre blanc history: The chef Clémence Prau Lefeuvre of the Loire restaurant La Buvette de la Marine, is credited with the invention of beurre blanc. Cooking at the beginning of the 20th century, she developed the recipe by accident.

    The story is that she intended to prepare a béarnaise sauce for a pike dish, but forgot to add the tarragon and egg yolks.
     
     
    BEURRE NOISETTE (BROWN BUTTER SAUCE)

    For more depth of flavor, the butter is cooked longer. A step up from beurre blanc is beurre noisette (photo #2).

    Literally meaning hazelnut butter, but commonly referred to as brown butter, it is melted butter that’s cooked until the milk solids turn the light golden brown color of hazelnuts and the butter gives off a nutty aroma.

    Beurre noisette is popular for sautéeing and saucing meat, poultry, fish and fruit; as a sauce for pasta and vegetables; and in baking biscuits, cakes and cookies. We like it with polenta and grains.

    Here’s a recipe for beurre noisette.

     

    Oysters In Beurre Blanc
    [1] Oysters in beurre blanc (photo courtesy Oyster Club | CT).

    Ravioli With Beurre Noisette
    [2] Ravioli in beurre noisette, brown butter (photo courtesy David Venable | QVC).

    Beurre Noir

    [3] Beurre noir is butter cooked until it turns a very dark brown (photo courtesy Alchetron).

     
     
    BEURRE NOIR (BLACK BUTTER SAUCE)

    French for black butter, the butter is cooked over low heat until it turns dark brown (not literal black—photo #3).

    When the sauce turns brown, a few drops of red wine vinegar or lemon juice are added. Some recipes add capers and parsley or thyme. Modern cooks have amended the recipe to include balsamic vinegar, garlic, even minced hot chiles (essentially, sauces that should be called balsamic beurre noir, garlic beurre noir, etc.).

    Two famous classic dishes are calves brains in black butter (a dish, alas, that is not served much these days since the spread of Mad Cow Disease) and skate in black butter. Here’s a recipe for skate in black butter.

    Beurre noir is not to be confused with Jersey black sutter, an English speciality made by slowly cooking apples with cider, licorice and spices. It’s generally eaten on toast.
     
     
    BONUS: BEURRE MONTÉ, A COOKING TECHNIQUE

    Beurre monté is not a sauce, but a method of infusing meats and fish with the flavor of butter. Solid butter is an emulsification of butter fat, water and milk solids; beurre monté is a way to manipulate the emulsification into liquid form.

    A few drops of water and chunks of butter are whisked over a moderate heat to melt the butter and keep it emulsified—a solid, creamy sauce. Foods are cooked in it, meats are rested in it, sauces are made with with it. “It’s an extraordinary vehicle for both heat and flavor.” says chef Thomas Keller.

    Here’s his recipe.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Jackson Pollock Your Plates

    Green Sauce Drips
    [1] A drip of basil oil, at Botanica | LA, dripped from a spoon (we use a teaspoon). Place your protein on top, or first add another color.

    Pollock - Green & Yellow
    [2] An actual Jackson Pollock painting.

    Dessert Plate
    [3] Sorbet and poached fruit with whipped cream from Matthew Kinney Cuisine. Fling the whipped cream above the plate with a spoon, then layer the dessert on top of it.

    Cucumber Rolls

    [4] A cucumber roll appetizer—not the most glamorous fare—gets sophistication from a splash of sauce, flung from a spoon above the plate. From Matthew Kinney Cuisine.

     

    This plate, covered with drips of house-infused basil oil from Botanica LA, inspired us to layer sauces like Jackson Pollock dripped and layered his paints.

    For almost two decades, creative chefs have been dripping, splashing, dotting, smearing, swirling and zigzagging sauces on the plate before adding the food, both savory and sweet.

    Today’s tip is to apply the sauce or condiment of the dish to the plate first, instead of spooning it on top of the protein or dessert.

    While photo #1 shows a one-color drip, you can use different colors for other layers., use a squeeze bottle on others (best for dots, swirls and zigzags).

    The world may be your oyster*, but the plate is your canvas.
     
     
    DRIPPING TIPS

    1. Match both the colors and flavors to your dish. You may want something pink, but does Russian dressing go with your scallops? (Maybe it does?)

    2. Limit yourself too three colors and space them out. When you layer too much, you’ll get a plate resembling photo #2.

    3. Use sauces or condiments with texture. The thinnest condiments don’t work. For example, teriyaki sauce, unless it’s reduced, will not keep its shape on the plate. Tabasco may not work but gochuchang will. Fresh salsa has too much texture to be used for plate painting, but many brands of pasteurized (shelf-stable) salsas are just right.

    4. Experiment with different tools. Pollock used a brush; you can use silicone basting or pastry brushes. A squeeze bottle is your friend. To make a splash like photos #3 and #4, put the sauce on a spoon and fling it onto the plate from above.

    Watch this video: You’ll love what you see—and don’t worry about the “Make Sushi” logo at the beginning. There’s no sushi involved.
     
     
    SAVORY “DRIP” SAUCES & CONDIMENTS

  • Beige: horseradish sauce, mayonnaise, peanut butter/peanut sauce, tahini
  • Black/brown: balsamic glaze, reduced teriyaki sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • Green: basil oil, chimichurri, guacamole (thinned), hot sauce, olive oil, wasabi mayonnaise
  • Orange: chile mayonnaise, creamy chipotle sauce, yum yum sauce
  • Pink: pasta sauce lightened with cream or yogurt, Russian dressing
  • Red: barbecue sauce, chili sauce, cocktail sauce, gochuchang hot sauce, ketchup, salsa (from jar)
  • White: ranch dressing, sour cream, yogurt
  • Yellow: mustard, nut oils
  •  
    You can make a vegetable coulis or purée in any color you need; for example, orange bell pepper for a bright orange purée, or purple bell pepper for a purple sauce.

    The difference between the coulis and purée is that a coulis is strained for a finer sauce with no seeds. Here’s more about it.
     
     
    SWEET “DRIP” SAUCES & CONDIMENTS

  • Beige: hard sauce, peanut butter sauce
  • Black/brown: balsamic glaze, chocolate sauce or syrup, nutella, sterling sauce
  • Green: lime curd, mint sauce
  • Orange/amber: maple syrup, orange curd
  • Red: raspberry or strawberry sauce, syrup or curd
  • White: homemade whipped cream, white chocolate sauce
  • Yellow: butterscotch, caramel sauce or syrup, crème anglaise, custard sauce, honey, lemon sauce, sabayon
  •  
    As with vegetables, you can make a fruit coulis or purée in any color you need; e.g., kiwi purée for a green sauce, mango purée for an orange sauce.

    Another option: melted ice cream in your color of choice. We discovered this years ago, when we accidentally placed a pint of mango sorbet in the fridge instead of the freezer.

    Ready to have fun?

    One…two…three: fling! drip! splash!

    ________________

    *The first form of the phrase, “The world is your oyster” first appears in print in Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” in a discourse between Falstaff and Pistol, one of his followers:
    Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny.
    Pistol: Why then the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open.

    The interpretation of the phrase is that Pistol will use his sword to steal money, referring to the pearl one finds in an oyster. The phrase evolved to mean that the world is yours to enjoy.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve It Three Ways

    One of our early food influencers was the late French chef, Jean Banchet, whose restaurant in Wheeling, Illinois was a destination for serious foodies the world over.

    In the days we visited, during the last decade of Le Français, the way in which his menu was unique was his approach to showcasing foods in different ways—all on one plate.

    Whether you wanted beef, chicken, foie gras, lamb, pork or seafood, he divided the portion and served it in different expressions, varying the technique, sauce, cut or other component.

    The potential variations were vast. You could order the lamb, say, at three different visits, and never have the same combination.

    This was, and still is, our kind of eating.

    As we don’t have a brigade de cuisine, we typically prepare a much simpler presentation: the protein, simply cooked (grilled, poached, whatever), served with different garnishes or sauces.

    You don’t need a special plate with different sections: Banchet use his regular porcelain dinner plates, as do we.

    You can take this approach with any course: Who would turn down cheesecake with three different toppings; or pound cake with custard sauce, caramel sauce and fudge sauce?

    The benefit of this approach is you don’t have to decide: Enjoy three favorites at once.

    HOW TO DO IT

    Depending on time and inclination, you can make this as simple or varied as you like.

  • Make one conventional, one spicy and one on the sweeter side (e.g., with fruit).
  • Vary the colors, and as appropriate, the textures.
  • If you’re really ambitious, vary the cooking technique (see below).
  •  
    Simple Versus Complex

    It can be as simple as three salsas—red, green and corn or fruit salsa; or a similar treatment with barbecue sauce—fruit, smoky and spicy.

    If you’re a devoted saucier, try three mother sauces or secondary sauces from classic French cuisine.

    Or, go international, with sauces and garnishes from, say, Asia, Latin America and the Mediterranean.
     
    Simple Approaches

    Here are examples of easy approaches to favorite proteins, that simply vary the sauce:

  • For steak or a roast: blue cheese, chimichurri, horseradish cream, mushroom sauce, salsa verde.
  • For chicken: barbecue, garlic wine, peanut, salsa verde.
  • For fish: classic butter sauce, pesto, teriyaki, uncooked tomato sauce.
  • For lamb: balsamic, Dijon, mint, rosemary-garlic.
  •  

    Tuna 3 Ways

    Tuna 3 Ways

    Gravy Boat

    Mini Mousse Cups

    Here are how two restaurants approached the same fish: [1] Tuna three ways from Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico. [2] Tuna three ways from Michalangelo’s Piccolo Mondo in Sandton, South Africa. [3] In addition to the gravy from pan drippings, serve two other sauces (photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd.). [4] Three flavors of mousse in mini dishes (photo courtesy Simply Quinoa | YouTube).

  • For pork: bourbon pan sauce, caramelized onions, honey-mustard, spiced sautéed apples.
  • For dessert: three different mini tarts, three different dessert sauces, ice cream with cubes of three different loaf cakes (e.g., banana bread, carrot cake, pound cake.
  •  
    Complex Approaches

    Here, the cooking technique is varied: You’re cooking three different dishes instead of making three different sauces.

  • Beef: brochette, roasted, tartare.
  • Chicken: fried, teriyaki roasted.
  • Fish: sashimi or ceviche, grilled, poached.
  •  
    The “three ways” concept works for everything from humble burgers and sliders and grilled cheese sandwiches to filet mignon and lobster.

    To adapt what a lesson from our high school algebra teacher: the permutations and combinations extend beyond our lifetime.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Aïoli, The Original, The Modern & A Party

    Aioli Dip With Seafood

    Basil Aioli

    Aioli Platter

    Saffron Aioli

    Habanero Aioli

    [1] As a sauce or dip with boiled potatoes (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] Tarragon aïoli as a dip with shrimp (here’s the recipe from Real Simple). [3] Le Grand Aioli: make a platter for your next gathering (here’s a story from Edible Seattle). [4] Just open the jar and use these flavorful aïoli from Delicious And Sons: Basil Lemon Aïoli and Saffron Orange Aïoli. [5] Southern Europe meets South America: Habanero Aïoli from Salsa Maya (remember that in Spanish, salsa is a generic word for sauce).

     

    Americans eat a lot of mayonnaise, but not enough aïoli: garlic mayonnaise.

    The word is pronounced eye-OH-lee from the French word for garlic, ail (pronounced EYE).

    What we think of as a bread spread is used as a dip and sauce from Catalonia (the northeast tip of Spain; think Barcelona) through Provence (Marseilles along the coast through Toulon, Cannes, Nice and Monaco.

    It hopped the border of Monaco to the Liguria region of Italy. It spread to the south of Catalonia to Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia and eastern Andalusia, and offshore to the Balearic Islands. It crossed the sea to Malta.

    In fact, mayonnaise was invented in France by the great chef Marie-Antoine Carême, around 1800. You may think of mayo as a spread, but it was created as a sauce (the history of mayonnaise).

    But before then, the original sauce was made with just garlic and olive oil, which, by the way, was not an easy combination to emulsify into a sauce in the centuries before blenders.

    Later, possibly inspired by Carême’s mayonnaise, Provençal cooks incorporated egg yolks and lemon juice and voila: a richer, more flavorful, more stable mixture than mashed garlic and olive oil. (When you look at your food processor or blender, remember that everything prior to modern times was done in a mortar and pestle.)

    There are numerous seasoning variations. In France, it can include a bit of Dijon mustard. In Malta, some tomato is added.

    Everywhere, aïoli is served at room temperature.

    Ingredients vary by region, too. Catalan versions leave out the egg yolk and use much more garlic. This gives the sauce a more pasty texture, while making it considerably more laborious to make as the emulsion is much harder to stabilize.
     
    AÏOLI USES

    Yes, you can put it on your sandwich or burger; but aïoli can be used instead of mayonnaise anywhere, from canapés to to dips to potato salad.

    You can even plan a luncheon or dinner party around it. And you can buy it or make it.

    Then, serve it:

  • With escargots, a French favorite.
  • With fish and seafood: boiled fish (in France, cod and aïoli are a popular pair), bourride (Provençal fish soup).
  • In the U.S. with broiled, poached or grilled fish and shellfish, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail
  • Spread on hard-cooked eggs.
  • On vegetables, especially artichokes, asparagus, boiled potatoes and green beans.
  • As a substitute for butter, oil or vinaigrette.
  • Fries!
  • Salted boiled potatoes and bay leaf (a Ligurian specialty).
  • Mixed into chicken salad, egg, tuna and potato salads.
  • As a crudités dip.
  • On Mexican corn (elote).
  •  
    SERVE LE GRAND AÏOLI

    In Provence, Le Grand Aïoli (a.k.a. Aïoli Garni or Aïoli Monstre) is a special-occasion dish consisting of boiled vegetables (artichokes, beets, carrots, green beans, potatoes); salt cod or other poached fish, snails, canned tuna, other seafood; hard-boiled eggs, and a large dish of aïoli.

    In Provence, the dish is served in a celebration around August 15th, after the garlic has been harvested. If you like the idea, plan an occasion.

    You don’t have to wait until August. A room-temperature dish, Le Grand Aïoli delightful in the spring or summer with a lightly-chilled Côtes de Provence rosé or a red Bandol.

    If you like crème de cassis (cassis liqueur, made from blackcurrants), it’s a local product; so serve a Kir or Kir Royale as an aperitif.
     
    AIOLI HISTORY

    Aioli, aïoli, alhòli, aiòli or allioli, arjoli or ajjoli: Depending on the country and region, they are different spellings for a Mediterranean sauce (in southeastern Spain, it’s called ajoaceite or ajiaceite).

    Made of garlic and olive oil—two staple ingredients of the area—the name means garlic and oil in Catalan and Provençal.

     
    There are numerous flavored mayonnaises. Since the expansion of specialty food producers in the late 1980s, it became fashionable for producers and chefs to call all flavored mayonnaises—basil, chili, cilantro, red pepper, saffron, etc.—aïoli.

    While purists insist that only the garlic-seasoned recipe should be called “aïoli,” we think, logically, that as long as there’s garlic in the recipe, it can still be called aïoli. Consumers will understand.

    Otherwise, you’ll find even purer purists who insist that only the original garlic-oil sauce—no egg, no lemon juice—be called aïoli.

    RECIPE: A QUICK AÏOLI WITH STORE-BOUGHT MAYONNAISE

    If you want to make your aïoli from scratch, here’s a recipe.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil or other herb*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Pinch salt
  • Optional: 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon olive oil (to thin)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLANCH the basil in boiling water for 15 seconds. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    2. REFRIGERATE, covered, for at least 1 hour or overnight, to allow flavors to meld.

    ________________

    *If you want a spice instead of an herb, season to taste.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Guasacaca Sauce

    Guasacaca Sauce Ingredients

    Blender Sauce

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/guasacaca bowl theamusedbouche 230

    Top: The ingredients for guasacaca. Center: Simply add them to a blender or food processor. Bottom: The finished sauce in its original consistency. Photos courtesy Cory of TheAmuseBouche.com. Here’s her recipe.

     

    A few nights ago we had a revelation. A great chef did an irresistible spin on guasacaca, the popular Venezuelan green sauce for grilled meats.

    Chef Karlos Ponte, who ws born in Venezuela and worked at El Bulli and Noma, is now executive chef at Taller in Copenhagen. He and his team came to New York City to cook a one-night-only tasting dinner at The Pines in Brooklyn.

    Chef Ponte changed the proportions of the classic guasacaca sauce: less avocado, more vinegar. In fact, we tasted herbs and acid instead of avocado.

    While Venezuelan guasacaca is often made thick and chunky like guacamole, his interpretation is thin and acidic, like a French persillade (parsley, garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar).

    This balance was perfection: We actually turned our backs to the room and licked the sauce off the plate. Thanks go to Taller’s general manager Jacob Brink Lauridsen (born in Venezuela, raised in Denmark), for taking this as a compliment.
     
    WHAT IS GUASACACA SAUCE?

    Guasacaca (wa-sa-KA-ka) combines avocado with vinegar and herbs. It can be made with with bit of jalapeño or hot sauce, although like guacamole, it is not intended to be a hot and spicy sauce.

    Guasacaca is served with beef, chicken and sausage grilled on a parilla.* It’s also a popular condiment with arepas and empanadas.

    We generously received a container of the sauce “to go,” and have since served it with eggs, fish and seafood; as a salad dressing; and as a dip with crudités.

    Chef Ponte’s sauce was so splendid, that our group of sophisticated palates used it with the breads (Chef Ponte’s recipes, also splendid), and drank some of it from the container on the way home from the restaurant.

    Here’s the catch: We now have to work out proportions similar to Chef Ponte’s. We started by eliminating one avocado and doubling the red wine vinegar. Our first batch was delicious, but not yet perfection.

    In the interim, here’s the classic guasacaca recipe, a real find for summer grilling. Add less oil for a dip.

     
    RECIPE: GUASACACA SAUCE

    Prep time is just 10 minutes, no cooking involved!

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2 ripe Haas avocados, roughly diced
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, roughly chopped
  • Optional: 1 medium jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves†
  • 1 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves†
  • 1/3 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup olive oil olive oil‡ (start with 1/3 and add more oil—or water—to desired consistency)
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients except the olive oil, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the container as needed. Process until smooth.

    2. DRIZZLE in the olive oil in a continuous stream through feed tube (or top of blender), with the motor running. Process until smooth.

    3. TASTE and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature for an hour for the flavors to blend. Taste again and add more seasoning as desired.

    4. SERVE the sauce at room temperature. You can make it in advance and store it in the fridge, but bring the sauce to room temperature before serving.

    NOTE: If made in advance, the avocado portion can darken. Tamp a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the sauce.
     
    _____________________
    *A a parilla is a simple grill comprising an iron grate over hot coals.

    †You can use less herbs—as little as 1/2 cup parsley and 1/4 cup cilantro—to taste. Save the stems for stock, soup or other recipes. You can also chop them and toss them into green salads.

    ‡In Venezuela, corn oil is used instead of olive oil.

     
      

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