White Butter Sauce (Beurre Blanc)

Makes 11/2 cupsA white butter sauce (beurre blanc in French) is versatile and an amazingly delicious sauce with vegetables, seafood, poultry or meat. It’s also a good substitute for hollandaise and bearnaise, both of which require eggs.

This sauce became popular in the South in the early 1970s but had been made in France for some time. While the thought of attempting to make a butter sauce can be daunting to some, it’s worth the attempt. Even a failed white butter sauce will taste scrumptious stirred into vegetables, rice or grains.

The main thing to remember when making this sauce is to be careful not to overheat it. While heat is needed to melt the cold butter, too much heat — as in boiling — will cause the sauce to break, or separate into oil and liquid. A little practice will make perfect, and finding the right pan and heat may take a few tries.

Even if the sauce breaks, it is usable and may even be “saved.”

A white butter sauce is great to have on hand and can be kept in the refrigerator or frozen. While it’s possible for the sauce to stay together in the refrigerator, it is less possible to stay together in the freezer. Fortunately, it is still usable. To use it frozen, or if the whole thing melts into a mess, toss hot vegetables or other ingredients into enough of the sauce to coat lightly; miraculously, they will gleam and are mouthwatering.

Nathalie DupreeIngredients2/3 cup fresh lemon juice or white wine

2 shallots, minced11/2 cups butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt; freshly ground black pepper

DirectionsCombine lemon juice or wine and shallots in a small to medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil until the liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons. If it is less than that, add water.

Turn heat to low and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. If what looks like oil appears in the otherwise creamy yellow sauce, remove the pot from the heat and set it over ice, or add a little water or crushed ice to the sauce. Cooling it just a little might save the sauce from breaking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If the sauce is too tart, add a little water, more butter or granulated sugar to correct.

Serve right away, or cover the top with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and leave at room temperature.

Many times it will reheat just topping the hot food. To reheat the sauce on the stove, add a little of the cold sauce to a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk sauce until it thickens, adding additional small portions of cold sauce to the pan, whisking continuously, until the entire sauce is reheated.

Variation

The addition of hot pepper jelly livens up a white butter sauce.

Nathalie Dupree is the author of 11 cookbooks, most recently “Southern Biscuits.” Visit Nathaliedupree.com.