The Art of Sauces: Beurre Blanc
We love the classic ways of eating white asparagus, served with a nice white wine from the Alsace region in France (Pinot Blanc, perhaps a dry Muscat). We were talking about different ways of preparing them. We browsed through various recipes and found a combination new to us: white asparagus with scallops (Coquilles Saint Jacques). Some add a tomato and tarragon sauce, others mayonnaise or (even) a tapenade. Not combinations we would like to see on our plate. Why not serve with a sauce that supports the subtle sweetness of both the asparagus and the scallops? Could be Hollandaise or Kimizu, but these are probably too rich for the scallops.
Beurre Blanc is an interesting sauce: it’s basically a reduction of white wine, vinegar and herbs, thickened with very cold butter. The more butter you add, the thicker the consistency, although it will remain thinner than an emulsified sauce. The benefit of beurre blanc is that it comes with that lovely velvety mouthfeel without being too rich. And the acidity works beautifully with the asparagus and the scallops.
What You Need
- 4 tablespoons Dry White Wine
- 2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
- 4 tablespoons of Water
- 1 Shallot
- Bay Leaf
- Black Pepper
- Double Cream
- 75 (or more) grams very cold Butter
What You Do
Chop the shallot and crush the black pepper corns. Add the wine, the vinegar and the water to a pan. Add the shallot, the black pepper, thyme and one bay leaf to the pan. Allow to reduce to 1/3. Pass through a sieve. In total you should have 3 or 4 tablespoons of reduction. Warm the reduction. Add a splash of cream and reduce to 1/2 or 1/3. Whisk regularly. Remove the creamy reduction from the heat and start adding small cubes of ice cold butter, one by one, whisking constantly. Keep adding butter until you have the taste and the consistency you want.
Asparagus and Scallops
We served the Beurre Blanc with steamed white asparagus and scallops sautéed in butter. We opened a bottle of Mâcon-Vinzelles ‘En Paradis’ 2021, produced by Château Vitallis. The wine, made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, is vinified in stainless steel tanks. It has just the right level of citrusy acidity, it is fresh with floral aromas, and comes with minerality and a touch of butter. In general, you’re looking for an unoaked chardonnay, with freshness and some acidity.