When I made this for dinner the other night, I just kept picturing Meryl Streep's face (as Julia Child) when she smells her fish and says, "Butter" in that slightly orgasmic tone.
So, I decided to attempt a beurre blanc sauce myself.
And the results: not too shabby.
I used Alton Brown's recipe* for this, which he calls "Raymond Beurre Blanc" with his usual wit, and yes, you will be as large as Raymond Burr eventually was if you eat like this regularly.
*Why not Julia's if she's what inspired this? Well, I looked in both of my Julia Child cookbooks and couldn't find "beurre blanc" in either index! So, I went with Alton Brown because his title amused me, and he is also usually quite meticulous in his instruction, so I felt I was in good hands.
Ingredients: 1-2 small shallots, finely chopped, 2 oz lemon juice, 8 oz white wine, 1 Tbsp heavy cream, 1 tsp dried thyme, 12 Tbsp cubed unsalted butter, salt and white pepper to taste.
(FYI I only used about 4 Tbsp of butter, as I was only making this for 2 people, and was avoiding cardiac arrest for dessert.)
Combine the lemon juice, white wine, and shallots, and reduce until there are only about 2 tablespoons of liquid.
Note: if you do not want a fairly sharp onion flavor at the end, try sautéing the shallot down a bit before starting the sauce.
Reduce the heat to low and add the cream. Once that starts to bubble at the edges, add the butter while whisking, one cube at a time, until it is all incorporated and smooth.
You may need to take the pan on and off of the heat as you add the butter so that it does not begin to boil, as that will lead to your sauce separating.
Once you reach a thick and smooth emulsification, season with the salt and pepper, and keep warm and ready for your fish.
I chose striped bass for this dish because it had a good price at the market, but any firm white fish will be lovely with this sauce.
The acidity in a beurre blanc sauce is what makes it special. Most recipes call for vinegar I believe, but since vinegar is off-limits to the Hubs's palate, I chose a recipe with lemon and white wine as the acids instead, and it was still lovely.
This sauce only takes about 15-20 minutes, and the largest portion of that is just waiting for the liquids to reduce, so it's not a huge effort, and you can continue to prep the rest of your meal while it cooks down.
I suggest trying it out if you never have before, because it's an elegant and tasty change of pace.
(At least, it was :)