Beurre Blanc Sauces

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By James Peterson

Published 1991

Until the late 1960s, beurre blanc (also called beurre nantais) was little known outside Brittany, the Loire Valley, and a few specialized Parisian restaurants. Because it contains no emulsifier other than butter itself, it was considered extremely difficult to make. In fact, there was a certain amount of mystique surrounding its preparation, usually concerning magic wrists or the need for a half-century’s experience. Gradually, a few of the more adventurous Parisian chefs discovered that the sauce was not so difficult to make after all, and beurre blanc, along with an array of obvious derivatives, took Paris by storm. Whether this sudden mass discovery of beurre blanc started flour’s banishment from the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants or simply coincided with it is hard to say, but once beurre blanc emerged from obscurity, it played a leading role in French kitchens in much the same way as béchamel and velouté did years before.

As beurre blanc became firmly established in contemporary kitchens, chefs realized that the technique used to whip the sauce into an emulsion (monter au beurre; see Enriching Sauces with Butter) was applicable to an almost infinite variety of sauce bases, including traditional and newly innovated brown and white sauces.

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