You’ve paid super close attention to detail on your recipe. You’ve measured twice, mixed once. You’ve adjusted the heat and whisked until your heart is content however for no rhyme or reason a sauce will break. As discussed in last week’s post there are ways you can prevent it however even the best chefs will have a sauce break on them. So this week I thought I should share with you some of my tricks of the trade in this week’s edition of Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer and discuss how to fix broken sauces.
When your hollandaise sauce has broken or your cream sauce has curdled not all is entirely lost. Both of these problems can be taken care of pretty simply.
Broken hollandaise – For a broken hollandaise you are going to take 1 egg yolk and whisk it over a water bath until it is thick and pale, just like when you started your hollandaise. Next you are going to use the broken hollandaise just like you just the butter the first time. Slowly add the broken hollandaise to the yolk, whisking vigorously as you go. This will bring your sauce back together. It might be a little more dense than it normally would be, but it will still taste great, and chances are your guest will never even know.
Broken cream sauce –To fix a broken cream sauce, take ½ cup of heavy cream and reduce it down to 1/3 of its original volume. Slowly drizzle in the curdled sauce while whisking vigorously. This should bring the sauce right back to its creamy, silky consistency. You can avoid a cream sauce curdling by adding just a little starch to it in the form of a roux or cornstarch slurry.
It’s just starting to break – You’ll know your sauce is just starting to break when little droplets of fat will start to form around the edges of the bowl. When you see this, hold off on adding more fat for the moment and add a little liquid instead.
Use a teaspoon or two of whatever liquid you’ve used as a base and whisk vigorously. The sauce should tighten up in a few seconds and the fat droplets will get suspended back into the emulsion. If the sauce isn’t thick enough yet, you can pick back up with adding the fat one teaspoon at a time.
Your sauce it totally broken – you’ll know this as the fat and liquid have separated and the sauce will look grainy and thin. To save this one, you’ll need to do a few extra steps to save it.
In a separate bowl, whisk together one egg yolk and tablespoon of whatever liquid you’ve been using as a base. Whisking constantly, add the broken sauce to this egg yolk one teaspoon at a time. This will form a fresh emulsion and new stable sauce.
If you’re making a warm sauce and the eggs start to cook, unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do to save it. If you’re down to your last egg or stick of butter, you can strain out the curdled egg and begin a new sauce using a fresh egg and the old sauce like we describe above.