This is a classic sauce that’s made up of ingredients you likely have on hand. It’s delicious on everything, from steamed seafood to vegetables to chicken. Like some of the other sauces in this chapter, mastering this sauce takes patience and attentiveness to ensure that you whisk in all of the butter without breaking the sauce. And much like the soufflés, even if the sauce does break, it will still taste delicious.
The first few times you make this recipe, it’s better to err on the side of your pan not being hot enough when whisking in the butter. Whisking over a flame allows you to make the sauce quickly, but you do run the risk of it breaking, so whisk mostly off the heat to begin with, and then rewarm the pan if necessary, rather than cook the sauce directly over the heat the entire time.
- ¼ cup finely minced shallot
- 1½ cups dry white wine
- 16 tablespoons butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In an 8- to 10-inch nonreactive sauté pan, heat the shallots and wine over medium heat. Cook until you have a syrupy consistency and the wine has mostly evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to reduce the wine too much; there should still be some liquid at the bottom of the pan.
- Turn off the heat and add the butter, 1 cube at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly melted before adding the next cube. If the pan gets too cool to melt the butter, turn on the burner to the lowest possible setting and whisk in 1 or 2 cubes at a time. The goal here is to melt the butter without breaking it, so keep the temperature warm but not too hot, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the sauce smooth and evenly textured. It is also important to whisk constantly, just as you do when adding oil for aioli. Whisk in the salt with the last cube of butter. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, the sauce should be silky smooth, warm to the touch, and fall in a thin but steady stream off the back of a spoon.
- Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl to remove the shallots (see photo). Serve the sauce immediately if possible, or hold it in a thermos (do not preheat the thermos with hot water) in a warm place for up to 1 hour.