Beurre Blanc Bust

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kc0kdh's picture
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Beurre Blanc Bust
I took my first shot at Beurre Blanc tonight.  I made pan roasted Sea Bass with beurre blanc, rice pilaff and sauteed green beans with balsamic vinaigrette.  Everything was very tasty, but the beurre blanc didn't emulsify.  I reduced the wine down to next to nothing, melted in pads of butter, etc but it never came together. In this process what acts as the emulsifier, and what is the rule of thumb ratio for wine and butter?

Apparently emulsification is going to be my arch enemy in the kitchen, I still haven't gotten an aoli to emulsify. 

It's sure GREAT to be back in the kitchen though!
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The secret behind a beurre blanc is that the butter is already emulsified so the trick is to melt the butter without breaking it. Since butter is a water suspended in fat emulsion, you need to make sure that you reduce your wine to almost nothing (which you did) and then melt the butter into the reduced wine while whisking and/or swirling the pan constantly. If the pan is too hot, the beurre blanc will break.

Since you reduced the wine, my guess is that your pan was too hot. Next time, try removing the pan completely from the heat while emulsifying in the butter, and don't ever let a pat of butter completely melt before the next pat is added. Beurre blanc is definitely a finesse technique that takes a few tries before you totally master it.
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Thanks Chef.  I followed all steps of your tecnique video down to the letter, so I have little doubt your right about my pan temp.  I did it in my cast iron after pan roating the fish, and naturally they retain a lot of heat. 

Thanks for the explaination, it makes sense that it's the butter that's breaking.
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That's what got you, its the cast iron pan. Next time, try using a small metal pan or even a non-stick. It's hard to make a beurre blanc in a large pan, even if it isn't cast iron. That's not to say it's impossible, but you should get a few wins under your belt before you try and make this process any more difficult then it already is.

Its very rare to see someone nail a beurre blanc on their first try, but once you get the "feel" for it, you'll look back and wonder what the big deal was. If cooking great food didn't take knowledge AND practice, then this website would likely put me out of a job! ;-)
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<grin> yea I hear ya.  I still have about 8 oz of Swai left so I'm thinking l may run home and whip it up for lunch tomorrow and make another run at the Beurre Blanc.  I'll post a follow up if I do it. 
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Well I took another shot at the Beurre Blanc today during lunch.  Using an 8" saute pan I got closer but still no cigar.  I seriously doubt I'm not reducing the wine enough as the pan is nearly dry.  I guess I need to work on pan temp more. From your previous explaination Chef, it sounds like the idea is to have the pan hot enough to gradually melt the butter, but not so hot that it breaks.
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You might actually be reducing the wine too much. A little bit of moisture in the pan helps as a buffer zone because as long as there is liquid, the surface of the pan can only get to 212F at sea level. Also, the butter will cool the pan slightly when you add it, so you want to add the butter rapidly at first, and then slow down as the pan cools.

Give it a couple more shots, you'll nail it. Trust me, you just have to get the feel for it and then it will become second nature.
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One of my biggest culinary thrills was the first time getting a decent Beurre Blanc .  I remember the early disasters just as much as the first success.  I seem to remember 3 or 4 trials before success.
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p.s.  Lance, my first success was with the following dish: Beurre Blanc on toast.  Odd, but filling... and allowed me to concentrate on the sauce without getting distracted by the rest of the dish.  Try it!
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Thanks guys. 

Brian, that's a great idea, thanks for the tip!
bak2bay6
Hi, I'm new to this site and happened to read the string of comments about the beurre blanc bust.  Does it make a difference is the butter is cold?  I've heard the butter should be cold to keep the sauce from breaking.  Just a thought. 
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The process is much more forgiving if the butter is cold. When working the hotline in a professional kitchen, your butter will inevitably become warm, so you'll have to adjust your "beurre blanc spidey sense" a bit if applicable; but if you're just starting out, you'll have better luck with cold butter.

BTW, welcome to Stella Culinary!
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Bak2bay, welcome to the forums!  Yes that was my understanding as well so I made sure the butter was cold.  I'll get it eventually!