This is our second thread in our series on sauces, if you missed the first one, look back into the the archives to see what you missed.
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Hollandaise, Béarnaise, and their derivatives make up a class of emulsion sauces that also includes the cold sauce mayonnaise. These sauces are prepared by emulsifying melted butter or oil into egg yolks, through rapidly whisking the ingredients, to break the butter or oil into tiny droplets that are held in suspension by lecithin in the yolks.
These sauces usually include wine, wine vinegar, or lemon, sometimes as cooked reductions, which denature the yolks and help to stabilize the sauce. The acids also raise the coagulation point of the yolks to about 190°F/88˚C to help prevent curdling.
Emulsion sauces are sensitive to heat and cold and must be held at a temperature of 120-130°F/50-55˚C. Use an insulated thermos for best results. Because this sauce must be held in the danger zone, the recommendation is to prepare it as close to service as possible and discard it after 2 hours.
Hollandaise and Béarnaise sauces are emulsions of melted butter and egg yolks. They begin with reductions of wine, wine vinegar, peppercorns, and in the case of Béarnaise sauce the addition of shallots and tarragon. Acids (wine, wine vinegar, or lemon) are added to balance the richness of the butter, and help prevent the yolks from curdling by raising their coagulation point. These sauces should be held at low temperatures, 120°F/50˚C. Because they contain egg yolks and must be held in the food temperature danger zone, prepare as close to service as possible and never hold for longer than 4 hours before discarding.
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