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Asparagus with hollandaise sauce on a school night? Yes!

Angelia Hensley, Community Contributor • Mar 27, 2019 at 9:56 AM

Can something quick and easy to cook be great? Can something that takes less than five minutes to make actually be better than a tried-and-true recipe by one of the giants of the culinary world? Or does it take great effort, massive preparation, multiple ingredients, and precious time that many of us don’t have to put a delicious meal on the table?

Many days, we are so bogged down with life we just want to throw something in the Crock-Pot and hope for the best. Is there anything better than coming home from work and dinner is DONE, and the house smells like June Cleaver has been clippity-clopping through your kitchen in her little heels getting the meat and veggies ready? 

When you serve that slow-cooked deliciousness, you pat yourself on the back for not hitting drive-thru and for serving from at least two categories on the food pyramid. 

What about those nights you didn’t load the Crock-Pot, but another ham sandwich just won’t do? Have you ever considered asparagus with hollandaise sauce on a school night? Neither had I until we recently had a Hollandaise Competition in our house.

I came across a recipe from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, for hollandaise sauce that seemed so easy — almost too easy — which would be a great solution for the non-Crock-Pot nights. Could something so quick and easy be as deliciously creamy and yummy as Julia Child’s hand-mixed buttery goodness? 

I decided to spend a day making both Ree’s sauce and Julia’s sauce. My husband volunteered to be the deciding vote between Ree’s easy recipe and Julia’s too-much-work-on-a-school-night recipe. I made two plates of Eggs Benedict and roasted asparagus with hollandaise sauce. They were both equally beautiful and eye-pleasing, with the sauces having almost the same texture. 

However, by the end of the two plates, it was clear there was a winner. I knew he would pick Julia’s sauce. I knew he couldn’t turn his back on the queen of French recipes for American cooks. I knew he couldn’t dismiss her famously classic techniques in favor of a food processor. I knew her elaborate culinary skills would win over a simple sauce with just five minutes of prep time. 

However, the world skidded to an end, and I apparently knew nothing, as he pointed the fork toward the empty plate with the tape on the bottom indicating The Pioneer Woman has provided us with a creamy, buttery, delicious sauce for the working people. 

Here are the recipes for both highly recommended sauces — it just depends on how much time you have and how much upper-body strength you have left at the end of a long day.

Julia’s Hollandaise Sauce:

2 sticks of butter plus 2 Tbsp. cold butter

3 egg yolks

1 Tbsp. cold water

1 Tbsp. lemon juice plus extra if needed

Salt and white pepper

2 saucepans

Wire whisk

Elbow and wrist motion that rivals tennis pros

Cut the two sticks of butter into pieces and melt in one of the saucepans. Set it aside. In the other saucepan, beat the three egg yolks until they appear thick and sticky, which is about two to three minutes of beating. Add the tablespoon of water and tablespoon of lemon juice as well as a pinch of salt. Beat with the wire whisk for at least two more minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of cold butter and place the saucepan over low heat. Whisk the yolks with the cold butter until it thickens and appears creamy, which is another two to three minutes. Once the cold butter has melted, beat the yolks over the heat until they have thickened to the point you can see the bottom of the pan between strokes. Remove from the heat and beat in the remaining tablespoon of cold butter. Now begin to drizzle in the butter from the other saucepan and beat until it thickens into a heavy cream. Avoid using the milky residue at the bottom of the saucepan. Season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice as needed. Reading these directions makes it seem that the whisking action of the elbow and wrist seems minimal, but trust me, it is not.

Ree’s Hollandaise Sauce

2 sticks of butter

4 egg yolks

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and white pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan. In a blender or food processor, combine the egg yolks with the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue mixing until thickened. Season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice as needed. Ree suggests adding Cajun seasoning and hot sauce, which is one of the reasons she is my cooking goddess!

Mount Carmel’s Angelia Hensley is a community contributor for the Kingsport Times News.