Sabayon

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Apart from the Italian zabaglione dessert sauce, I had never come across sabayon until a lunch I arranged in 1969 at the great Albert Stockli’s restaurant Stonehenge in Connecticut. Stockli brought in a huge silver platter one-half-inch deep in melted butter, through which were swimming four large “blue” trout, mouths agape, only minutes from swimming around the pond we could see out of the window. He passed separately at the table a sabayon made with fish stock, in which he had incorporated whipped cream to give the sauce the texture of cumulus clouds. Spooned over the delicate poached trout flesh, it formed one of the best combinations I had ever tasted.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or ½ cup wine plus ½ cup fish or chicken stock)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small pinch cayenne

Method

Choose a pan in which a stainless-steel (or other noncorrosive) bowl fits halfway down and fill the pan a third with water. Bring the water to a boil. Put the yolks, wine, and salt and cayenne in the bowl and whisk vigorously for 5 minutes. Put the bowl on top of the pan and whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of thick whipped cream. Do not let the mixture boil or you will have scrambled eggs. Have ready a bowl of ice and water (in case you overheat the sabayon) and cool the bowl in that, if necessary.

If you are going to serve the sauce cold, it must be whisked over the ice-water bath until cold. If left to cool by itself, it will lose its volume and separate.

Sweet Sabayon

For a sabayon to be served with desserts or over fresh fruit, follow the above recipe but substitute a sweet white wine and omit the cayenne.

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