Cooking in Langley: the secret to beurre blanc

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  • Oct. 14, 2015 1:00 p.m.

Although I don’t claim to be a nutrition expert, I feel the need to begin this column with the disclaimer that the following recipe contains a couple ingredients that are high in fat.

This very classic sauce does however make for a wonderfully rich treat on occasion to top your favourite seafood or chicken. Beurre Blanc, also known as white butter sauce is a brilliant combination of flavours and richness. This is a sauce that is known worldwide by all chefs and is sure to bring compliments at your dinner table.

The original version of this traditional sauce is difficult for the average home cook to prepare as it needs consistent balance of temperature in order to come together as a sauce. I have, however, made an adjustment in ingredients to ease this preparation and help bring success to you every time you attempt it.

In an original classic recipe of Beurre Blanc the goal is to melt the butter slowly, one piece at a time, while whisking to incorporate air into the butter as it melts. If the pan is too hot, or the butter not cold enough, or the whisking is inefficient, then the butter will melt too quickly resulting in a greasy mess not much different in consistency than microwaved butter. The properly incorporated air into the butter offers you the rich velvety sauce.

So, what’s my secret ingredient to help turn this troublesome technical recipe into one of complete and utter bliss? Whipping cream. Adding two or three tablespoons of whipping cream to the reduction of shallots, white wine and white wine vinegar, will act as a stabilizer. The purpose of this stabilizer is to give you assistance in the amalgamation of the air into the butter. The whipping cream helps to give the butter substance and an increased ability to absorb air without separating. I have never seen anyone fail at this recipe with the addition of this secret ingredient.

Shallots are important in this recipe because onions would be too overpowering. Shallots, although more expensive, offer a sweeter milder taste and are a classic ingredient for a proper beurre blanc sauce. I am not trying to sound pompous in anyway, but substituting onions for shallots would devastate the original integrity of this beautiful sauce.

For my health conscious readers, this is not one for daily eating. This is a splurge, a detour into the model of classic French cooking, if you will. This is a chance for you to raise your glass in honour of the likes of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, or any other French Chef that you hold dear to your heart. Enjoy and bon appetite!

Beurre Blanc

This is a French term for white butter sauce. Excellent on fish or vegetables.

2 shallots, minced

1/4 cup white wine

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

2-3 tbsp whipping cream

1/2 cup cold butter, cubed into small pieces

Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Add shallots, wine and vinegar to a medium size pan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid in the pan to one tablespoon.

Stir in the whipping cream.

Reduce the heat to very low and start whisking the mixture while adding the cold butter pieces one at a time. Make sure that the butter is melting slowly so you can whisk it into a sauce consistency – if it melts too quickly, it will just be a greasy mess. If it is melting too quickly, remove the pan from the heat for a minute or two and whisk it constantly before returning it to the low heat to continue whisking in the remaining butter. The addition of the cream in the previous step will act as a stabilizer to help you to whip air into the butter to become a sauce.

When all the butter has been incorporated, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Makes approximately 3/4 cup.


Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary travel host and cookbook author. Visit him at

Write to him at or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4

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