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On my second trip to San Francisco last November I devoured My Life in France. The delayed flight out of LAX and lack of WiFi there made it easy to fall into Julia Child’s memories.
That night I found myself at Alamo Square Seafood, and if there was anything to convince me of how my life keeps crashing into food, it would be the presence of beurre blanc on their menu.
How could I not order it? After reading about Julia’s persistence in learning how to make it, I had to try this magical elixir in the form of creamed butter. Am I waxing a bit too poetic for you? Perhaps, but you have to understand – this sauce transformed my sauteed red snapper from a simple fish to the best poisson I’ve ever tasted.
This recipe would be mine, oh yes. I would perfect it and serve it with a flourish to family and friends, and my head would probably fill with pride as I recounted how wonderfully easy it was, and it would become an often-requested favorite.
Except the next time I put fish on the menu my husband balked.
“I don’t really like fish that much,” he explained.
That much? That much?!? We hardly ever have fish in this house. I ruefully noted (in my head) that I was sure he wouldn’t mind if we had fish sticks every week, but throw a real fish into the mix and he’s turning up his nose like our toddler. Who, incidentally, doesn’t like fish sticks but eats salmon.
I shelved the idea for a while – after all, it was the holidays, and then my cleanse, and time gets away from you – but then all of a sudden it was February, a full three months after I had declared my love, and I hadn’t even sent it a Valentine.
“I’m making beurre blanc this weekend!” I shrieked, brandishing a stick of butter and preventing all access to the kitchen. Of course, the only ones home were the cats, who just blinked at me. Darn cats. Chefs get no respect.
Julia Child’s Beurre Blanc
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp finely minced shallots or scallions
- Salt and ground white pepper
- 8 to 12 ounces 2 to 3 sticks chilled best-quality unsalted butter, cut into 16 or 24 pieces
- In a small saucepan heat liquids to a boil, adding shallot and white pepper. Boil down to a syrupy glaze.
- Remove pan from heat and whip in two lumps of butter, then two more.
- Set pan over lowest possible heat and continue to add more butter as soon as the last lump has been absorbed. You might want to take it off the heat completely in order to reach the proper consistency.
- It should be smooth like mayonnaise, and the butter should not melt.
- Add salt to taste and serve. However, letting it sit a moment before serving will help it thicken further and prevent melting when added to hot food.
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