So, it happened. You walked away for too long, or turned the heat up too high, and suddenly you’re left with a separated (or broken) sauce. Don’t fret! Blue Apron chef Emily Ziemski is here with some key steps you can take before, during, and after making your sauce to make sure that it will be a smashing success.
What is a broken sauce?
“Breaking” can only happen when you’re making an emulsified sauce, like a hollandaise or a beurre blanc. Instead of a velvety emulsion, where the droplets of fat are suspended in liquid, a broken sauce has separated back out into liquid and fat. A sauce on the brink of separating will show little fat droplets forming around the edges. A fully broken sauce will look distinctly separated (like it’s two different sauces), very liquidy (or loose), or grainy.
How can I fix a broken sauce?
- Add a little liquid––if you’re just beginning to notice signs of breaking––droplets of fat forming around the edges of the pot or pan––don’t add any more fat, but revert back to adding just a teaspoon or two of your ‘base’ liquid (water, broth, vinegar, etc), and keep judiciously stirring or whisking until the sauce tightens up again.
- Work over consistent heat––sometimes a big jump in temperature can cause the emulsion to break and separate. While cooking, keeping the heat low and slow can keep your sauce happy and together!
- Add a little fat back––a classic emulsified sauce is typically a 1:1 ratio of fat to liquid! If your sauce is breaking but is also very thin, vigorously whisking in a little fat (butter, egg yolk) can bring it around.
- Whisk whisk whisk––sometimes all a sauce needs is a little zhuzhing to come back together. If the sauce starts breaking while you’re making it, don’t add any more ingredients, just turn down the heat and give it a good whisking until the ingredients re-emulsify.
- Warm it up––if a finished sauce sits for too long, it loses heat and stability, which can threaten the structure of the sauce! Reheating it slowly while consistently stirring or whisking can whip your sauce back into main dish shape.
- Start from scratch––don’t throw out your broken sauce, but start your base anew, then slowly combine the two sauces over heat. Voila! Now you have a little extra sauce.
How can I prevent this from happening to my future sauces?
- Add a thickener while you’re making it–– adding cornstarch or flour to the liquid before adding (be sure to get out any clumps) can add some stability to your sauce.
- Temper your ingredients–– to avoid shocking the sauce (adding a cold ingredient to a hot sauce), you can take some of your sauce and spoon it into whatever ingredient you’re adding next. Whisk to combine, and then slowly pour in the tempered mixture! Shock avoided!
- Reduce your acids–– if your sauce is acid-based and also has a dairy component (eg: beurre blanc), make sure that the acidic liquid (wine, vinegar) is fully reduced in the pan before adding any dairy!
- Never bring a dairy-based sauce to a boil; this can cause them to curdle.
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