Broth-and-Butter Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • yield:

    2 cups

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About


concentrated white stock (6 times reduction) 2 cups 500 ml
cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes 7 oz 200 g
salt and white pepper to taste to taste


  1. Melt the stock in a 1-quart (1 liter) saucepan. Reduce it, if necessary, until it has a lightly syrupy consistency. Add the butter all at once—as though making a beurre blanc—and whisk constantly until the butter is absorbed.
  2. Bring the sauce quickly to a boil and allow it to boil for only about 5 seconds; any longer may cause it to break. (This short boil gives the sauce an agreeable sheen. If a more opaque, matte look is wanted, do not allow the sauce to boil at all.) Season with salt and pepper. The sauce can be kept warm for an hour or two in the saucepan in a pot of hot water. Check the temperature of the sauce and whisk it lightly every 10 minutes to prevent it from breaking. If it starts to thicken, whisk in a tablespoon or two (15 to 30 milliliters) water or stock to keep it fluid. Letting it get too thick will cause the butter to coalesce and the sauce to break.


Regardless of one’s efforts, butter sauces have a propensity for breaking, especially when held for any length of time in a bain-marie. The usual way around this is to add a tablespoon of liquid every 15 minutes or so to thin the sauce, but as an alternative, they can be stabilized by working 2% liquid lecithin (as a percentage of the butter; in this case, 4 grams) into the butter before it used to finish the sauce. An emulsifier such as propylene glycol alginate (0.5% as a percentage of liquid, in this case 0.25 gram) can be added to liquids such a béarnaise reduction to further reinforce the emulsion. Use an immersion blender to work these emulsifiers into the butter and stock before whisking the two together in a sauce.