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Hollandaise. Lemon vs. Vinegar!

On the DC board they are talking about Eggs Benedict, but the discussion is about the preparedness of the eggs. I grew up on classic Hollandaise made with reduced vinegar, then butter slowly added while double boiling. This is led me to a life of never being satisfied with the lemon based Hollandaise sauces at all, AT ALL, that restaurants use on their Eggs Benedict (and whatever other dishes they may deem to use it on).

Initially, I thought my family had it wrong and so I looked it up and Escoffier's recipe is even with vinegar, so I would call this the classic way to make it. Is the lemon an Americanization? Is it because chef's have an easier method with lemon juice? Or just the lighter flavor of the Hollandaise is more appealing to an American palate. I know that if most people tasted my Hollandaise they would be like, "What the hell is this?!" (The few who have actually loved it, but they were food enthusiasts.)

Thoughts? Flames? Explanations?

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  1. I've never had Hollandaise sauce without lemon in it. My Joy of cooking calls for lemon. All the good Hollandiase sauces I've had tasted had very strong lemony flavors. Now I want to try making it with the vinegar reduction. Thanks for informing me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: YAYME

      I was also of the "if it's Hollandaise, it must have lemon" camp, but sekelmann's right - Escoffier does (did) make it with vinegar, and I ain't dissing that guy's food cred. ;-)

    2. I usually make it with neither. I use a white wine reduction.

      But I have also made it with lemon, with various flavours of vinegar or some combination of the above. Depends on what I have in the house and what it is going to be served with. And I don't think that the wine or vinegar or lemon should be a strong flavour anyway. To me, it the eggs and butter that should stand out with a hint of acid.

      When I am out, I don't really care which one I am served, as long as it is properly made (emulsified properly, good ratio of egg to butter) and tastes good (and unlike the OP, I think that with lemon it does taste good). And it's real hollandaise, not something from a package.

      1. It seems that around the end of the XIX century, the commonly used acid in hollandaise changed from vinegar to lemon. Even the old recipes don't call for a vinegar reduction (water and vinegar reduced with spices, yes, reduced vinegar -- which would end out with a very high acidity, no). It should mostly taste of butter and egg, not strongly of the acid.

          1. I have never made Hollandaise with vinegar, but will try that the next time. Can't imagine that it would not taste good, though. What vinegar to you prefer to use: plain white, wine, etc? And how do you reduce it? With any spices? Just trying to get the flavour profile you are making.

            On eggs I do not like the Hollandaise to have a strong acid flavour. When making it to accompany a vegetable such as asparagus, I tend to like it with a bit more lemon. Not overpowering, but more acid than when served with Eggs Benedict. Have also made it with lime juice or orange juice to serve with vegetables. Hmmm. I think I must serve Hollandaise sauce with asparagus more than anything else. Hadn't thought about that before. LOL.