What is Beurre Blanc?

Beurre Blanc sauce is a classic French sauce that is the perfect accompaniment to fish, seafood, asparagus, and chicken. The name ‘Beurre Blanc’ is French meaning ‘white butter’ but in reality, this sauce is a very pale golden colour and is thick and creamy in texture –similar to mayonnaise. Beurre Blanc is a carefully balanced emulsifying sauce that has both sweet and sour elements.

Beurre Blanc sauce is made by reducing white wine –usually Muscadet-or some white wine vinegar with some shallots. Butter and cream are then added and whisked in over a very low heat so that the sauce does not separate. The sauce was invented by the French chef Clémence Lefeuvre in the early years of the 20th century. She ran a restaurant in the Loire valley and some say that her invention was a happy accident as she forgot to add some ingredients to her Béarnaise sauce! Beurre Blanc was the delicious result!

Beurre Blanc does require skill to make it successfully as the ingredients do not naturally blend well, so there is the danger that they will separate if this happens, some chefs add an egg yolk to bind the ingredients. The key point to success is not to overheat the sauce as this will cause separation. It is also important to add really chilled butter slowly to the wine – a few cubes at a time and to whisk continuously at this stage.

Because Beurre Blanc has quite a neutral flavour, so it can benefit from the addition of fresh herbs and spices. Beurre Rouge meaning ‘red butter’ is a popular variation of this sauce that is made with red wine that makes the sauce more robust in flavour and the ideal accompaniment to red meat and vegetables.