Beurre Blanc or “white butter” originated in the city of Nantes, France at the turn of the Twentieth Century. A gal named Clémence Lefeuvre apparently created the rich, buttery sauce by accident. Talk about divine intervention. It was traditionally used for fish such as Shad or Pike and has become a hugely popular topping for contemporary dishes. While it may sound intimidating it is actually very easy to make, but requires a bit of patience. It is important to keep in mind when you make the dish that the heat must be kept at a minimum. You are simply “mounting” the vinegar to the butter and if you cook at too high of a heat it will separate and begin to clarify. When this happens, your sauce is ruined. Take your time!
Once it’s finished you have a classic, delicious topping for fish or leaner meats such as chicken.
Beurre Blanc (serves 4-6)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
Bring wine, vinegar, and shallot to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 2 to 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Add cream, salt, and white pepper and boil 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium low and add a few pieces of cold butter, whisking constantly. Add remaining butter a few pieces at a time, whisking constantly. Your sauce should be relatively thick, roughly the consistency of hollandaise. Remove sauce from heat, then season to taste with salt and pepper. At this point most people will pour sauce through a mesh sieve to eliminate the shallot. I prefer to maintain the shallot. Serve immediately.