Pantry Basics: A great beurre blanc


It is often said that the foundation of French cuisine is its sauces. This is something that I’ve come to appreciate more as I’ve aged. With my own cooking, I once spent a lot of time (over)working my core ingredients, and not enough time on my sauces. I now like to create dishes in which the core proteins are prepared with a lighter hand — especially if those products are of the highest quality — but then dressed with a flavourful and exciting sauce. A great sauce lifts a dish dramatically. A weak sauce can make what would have been a great dish fall flat.

One of my favourite base sauces is a beurre blanc. Much to my (very healthy) wife’s chagrin, I still tend to prefer creamy sauces. I’ve also (as I’ve matured as an eater) come to appreciate acid in foods and a well-made beurre blanc is a wonderful way to add flavour, acid, and a soft luxuriousness that lifts dishes. I also like that once you’ve mastered the base recipe, it is relatively easy to flavour your beurre blanc. Infuse your cream with dried porcini and you have a sinful mushroom beurre blanc. Add saffron and spices and give your sauce new nuances. Use red wine instead of white and you have a beurre rouge. Add your favourite emulsifier and blend and you have a lovely beurre blanc foam to give your dish a fine-dining aesthetic touch. You can even change the flavouring elements of the base recipe to create new flavour accents. The permutations are limitless once you get the basics down pat.

The recipe I’ve been using for years comes from Michael Mina The Cookbook. It’s a clear, concise and almost dummy-proof recipe (good for us hubbies with short attention spans and tempers). In the recipe, the kind of white wine and the kind of vinegar you use are left for you to choose. You should experiment with different kinds of both and see what you like best. It is very true that the better the quality of the wine (and vinegar) the better the sauce will be.


About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!