And here's the thing about this sauce. It is one of those dishes that looks really difficult but, actually, is really easy.
Here are the two ways I like this sauce best: First, drizzled in a thick stream over roasted asparagus. Second, poured with a generous hand over Eggs Florentine.
And I've got step-by-step instructions to help you make it.
Recipe for hollandaise sauce so good he (or she) will totally propose on the spot
First, you need some clarified butter. If you don’t have any around (and who, outside of a chef, ever does?), then just plunk a least two cups of butter into a pot and put the burner on low, low, low. You don’t want a simmer or any type of violent cooking; you want to let those milk solids gently sink to the bottom of your pan. Then, once your butter is melted and your milk solids are on the bottom of your pan (you can see them down there, looking all milky), just ladle out the froth on top (discard this), ladle out the top layer of butter fat (this is your clarified butter), and throw away the milk solids on the bottom.
Put that clarified butter into a waiting pot at a very low heat.
Next (or while you are waiting for your butter to melt so you can make clarified butter) make your reduction.
This is just white wine vinegar, crushed white peppercorns, white wine, and minced scallions. You want to use, oh, say half an ounce, each, of the liquids and about 1/4 teaspoon of the peppercorns and one or two scallions. You pop these into a pot and simmer them until you are left with about a tablespoon or two of the liquid.
Got your clarified butter? Got your reduction? Good! Then take this time to bring a pot of water to a simmer. You will put a bowl, within which you will mix your hollandaise, on top of this pot, but off the heat. You do this to keep your hollandaise warm. So get a pot that can hold your bowl.
Okay, now you are ready to do the hollandaise boogie.
Put your pot of water on your counter (use a trivet, if needed) and your bowl on top of your pot. Put two egg yolks into your bowl and a tablespoon or so of your reduction.
Whip those egg yolks. Now, most places tell you to whip them until you get ribbons. To see those ribbons, lift your whisk above your bowl. Your whipped egg yolk should run off your whip and into your bowl in a nice ribbon. I, however, find it easier to look for a color change. See, you are whipping air into your egg mixture, so it will, of course, lighten. When it changes from dark orange (yolk color) to pale yellow (butter color), then that is the equivalent of ribbon.
Your eggs are also thickening at this point.
Now, is time to start drizzling in your butter. Do this a few drops at a time, whipping continuously and making sure all butter is absorbed into your mixture before you add more.
Once you have put about four ounces of butter in there, and whipped it so it is incorporated with your egg, then you have an emulsion. At this point, you can start to add your butter faster and faster, more and more at a time.
Keep going until you have used all of your butter. Then, add whatever flavorings you like. I put in freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and a few drops of Tabasco. My chef also adds Worchestire sauce, just a few drops, but I preferred it without.
Pour over poached eggs or asparagus or whatever you like and keep a clean napkin handy to wipe away those tears of joy.