Beurre Blanc is not a classic French sauce - it's actually fairly modern, having allegedly been discovered by accident about 100 years ago by Chef Clémence Lefeuvre. She was supposedly working on a Bearnaise and she forgot to add the egg yolks. She still ended up with a decent emulsification, so she plated up.
For us non-French chefs, life does not always go so well. Anyone who has ever played around with a recipe and thought that mixing vinegar, wine, and shallots together was a good idea might claim that no one would do this on purpose, and that all the butter in the world might not save the sauce. Turns out there is a bit of an art to it.
Your basic beurre blanc starts with vinegar and wine, and the wine makes a difference here. You'll want a very sweet white like Champagne to cut the bitter edge off the rest of the ingrdients. You'll want two parts wine to one part vinegar, and you'll want to reduce it.
Once you have your reduction, you'll also want to add any combination of shallots, leek, and garlic. Traditionalists will stick to shallot, but leek and garlic add a little depth.
You'll also want about half a stick of butter, cut into about five or six pieces. Once the shallots, etc., have cooked, add the butter, reserving two pieces for later. When the butter has melted and is integrated into the sauce, remove it from the burner and add the two remaining pieces of butter to melt at their own pace.
|Beurre Blanc - white butter|
This will result in a sauce that is sweet, tangy, buttery, and surprisingly light. The Champagne will cut through the bitterness and will bring out the subtle sweetness of the shallot that is otherwise overpowered by its bitterness.
This sauce is an excellent partner for seafood, and my counterpart served it over fresh shrimp that he sauteed with a little jalapeno, leek, and peas. Pasta tossed with a Spanish goat cheese and a smattering of lima beans rounded out things out nicely. It was completely unexpected for a Tuesday, and it was completely delicious.
|Beurre Blanc over shrimp|