The Possible Reason Your Beurre Blanc Broke And How To Save It

As the great Anthony Bourdain once noted, "An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins." Indeed, a good sauce can be a culinary fix-all — but, what if your sauce is broken? Beurre blanc may have a French name, but it isn't one of the five French mother sauces. Still, like an FMS, beurre blanc rocks, and it's a classic culinary staple made from simple, basic ingredients. 

If you've never worked with it before, beurre blanc is cold butter, cut into cubes, and stirred into dry white wine, vinegar, and diced shallots. The result is a rich, creamy sauce with a savory, tangy flavor, often used for finishing poached eggs, roasted vegetables, and fish. It adds instant elevation to asparagus and salmon; you could even ladle it over fries as a sexy poutine reimagination. Like a hollandaise, it's ultra finicky and tricky to get right.

In a successful beurre blanc (aka "white butter" in French), the butter breaks down into small spherical fat globules that become evenly distributed and suspended throughout the liquid components. When a beurre blanc breaks, it's because the butter melts and separates from the rest of the sauce. Instead of coming together, your fat and liquid break into their individual parts and the result is a greasy mess. Temperature matters, and your beurre blanc can (and probably will) break if the butter isn't cold enough. Luckily, there's a simple way to save it.

Keep the heat low and whip out some cold ingredients

To fix a broken beurre blanc, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in a few ice cubes. This will lower the temperature of the butter and help it solidify, enabling proper emulsification. Most creamy sauces use a 1:1 ratio of fat to liquid. If your beurre blanc starts falling apart, the addition of a little cold butter will restore the balance.

Alternatively, some folks also add heavy cream to enhance the velvety texture and stabilize the emulsification. Opt for chilled cream to bring the temperature down. Just keep in mind that the addition of cream has the potential to create a thinner sauce — albeit not a broken one. Pour that cold cream with a light hand.

When it comes to nailing a killer sauce, the best offense is a good defense. Prevent your beurre blanc from breaking in the first place and start with cold butter, right out of the fridge. Keep the heat low and slow, and if it starts looking a little thin, turn down the heat and give it a vigorous whisking. 

Use your beurre blanc right away. It can be temporarily refrigerated, but chances are high that it'll break when reheated. Breaking won't impact the flavor, but that signature velvety texture is part of what makes beurre blanc such a pleasant, impressive addition to a dish.