Recipe: Shallow Poaching Instructions, Beurre Blanc and Sauce Vin Blanc (with photos) (2024)

Source: The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America, 2011

Shallow poaching, like sauteing and grilling, is an a la minute technique. Foods are cooked in a combination of steam and simmering liquid. Shallow-poached foods are partially submerged in liquid, which often contains an acid (wine or lemon juice). Aromatics, such as shallots and herbs, are added for more flavor. Cover the pan to capture some of the steam released by the liquid during cooking.

A significant amount of flavor is transferred from the food to the cooking liquid. For maximum flavor, the cooking liquid (cuisson) is usually reduced and used as the base for a sauce. The acids give the sauce a bright, balanced flavor. Butter can be easily emulsified in the sauce; beurre blanc is often the sauce of choice for shallow-poached foods.

As for steaming, naturally tender foods of a size and shape that allow for quick cooking work best. Fish, shellfish, and chicken breasts are among the most common options for this cooking method. Trim the main item as appropriate. Remove bones or skin from fish to make fillets or from poultry to make supremes or boneless, skinless breast portions. Fish fillets may be rolled or folded around a stuffing to form paupiettes (see page 411), with the bone side of the fish showing on the exterior. Remove shellfish from the shell, if desired.

The poaching liquid contributes flavor to the food as well as to the sauce prepared from it. Choose rich broths or stocks and add wine, vinegar, or citrus juice as appropriate.

Cut aromatics fine or mince them. Other ingredients to be served along with the sauce as a garnish should be cut neatly into strips, dice, julienne, or chiffonade. These ingredients are often sweated or parcooked first to develop the best possible flavor as well as to make certain that all parts of the fi nished dish are fully cooked at the same time. The sauce may be a beurre blanc or sauce vin blanc), or simply the reduced cooking liquids. Refer to specifi c recipes for additional suggestions or guidance.

Use a sautoir or other shallow cooking vessel, such as a hotel pan, to shallow poach. Select the pan or baking dish carefully; if there is too much or too little space left around the food, it may over- or undercook, or there may be too much or too little liquid for the sauce. Buttered or oiled parchment paper or a loose-fitting lid is used to cover the pan loosely as the food cooks. It traps enough of the steam to cook the unexposed part of the food, but not so much that the cooking speed rises. You may require a strainer for the sauce. You will also need utensils for handling the poached food, such as a slotted spatula, and heated plates for service.

Shallow Poaching (1 entree portion)

1 portion (4 to 6 oz/113 to 170 g) boneless, skinless fish or chicken breast
1 oz/28 g butter
1⁄2 oz/14 g shallots
1 fl oz/30 mL white wine and 1 fl oz/30 mL white stock, according to the portion being cooked
Salt and other seasonings for both the food and the poaching liquid
Additional finishing ingredients, including prepared sauce and garnishes

1. Heat butter in a sauteuse.
2. Smother the aromatics in the pan and make a level bed.
3. Add the main item and the poaching liquid.
4. Bring the liquid to a simmer.
5. Cover the sautoir with parchment paper.
6. Finish the food over direct heat or in an oven.
7. Remove the main item, moisten it, and keep it warm.
8. Reduce the cuisson and prepare a sauce as desired.
9. Serve the main item with the sauce and the appropriate garnish.

To develop additional flavor, choose well-seasoned poaching liquids: Stock/Broth/Wine/Sauces

A cuisson can also be used in a way that does not require reduction but as a broth-type liquid in which to serve the main item. This method is sometimes referred to as "a la nage."

Depending on the desired result, the cooking liquid can be used to create a sauce to finish the poached item.

TO MAKE A BEURRE BLANC: Reduce the cooking liquid until it is syrupy. It may be strained into a separate pot at this point, if desired. With the reduced cooking liquid at a simmer, add pieces of cold butter a few at a time. Keep the pan in motion as you add the butter, swirling it into the sauce as it melts.

TO MAKE A SAUCE VIN BLANC: Reduce the cooking liquid and add the desired aromatics and an appropriately flavored veloute. Strain the sauce if necessary and finish with cream or a liaison and any additional garnishes.

For more information about preparing sauces for shallow-poached items, refer to specific recipes.

1. Make sure the level of the liquid goes no higher than one-third to halfway up the food; generally, less is required. If too much liquid is used, either a great deal of time will be needed to reduce it properly or only part of it will be usable in the sauce.

Lightly butter a shallow pan and add aromatics to give the cooking liquid and finished sauce a good flavor. If the aromatics can cook completely in the time required, they can be added raw; otherwise, cook them separately beforehand by sweating lightly in the butter.

Season and place the main item on top of the aromatics, then pour the liquid around the item. It is not necessary in most cases to preheat the liquid, though for large quantities, it may be helpful to do so. Be careful not to bring it to a full boil. (see image below)

Recipe: Shallow Poaching Instructions, Beurre Blanc and Sauce Vin Blanc (with photos) (1)

2. Cover the paupiettes with buttered parchment paper (cartouche) before putting them in the oven. It is best to finish poaching foods in the oven because oven heat is more even and gentle than direct heat. It also frees burner space for other purposes.

Bring the liquid up to poaching temperature (160 to 180 degrees F/71 to 82 degrees C) over direct heat, loosely covered with parchment paper, and finish in a moderate oven. On some occasions, however, it is preferable to perform the entire cooking operation in the oven. The quantity of food prepared and the available equipment will dictate what is most logical. Do not allow the liquid to boil at any time. A rapid boil will cook the food too quickly, affecting the quality of the dish, and may cause all of the liquid to evaporate from the pan, possibly scorching the protein. (see image below)

Recipe: Shallow Poaching Instructions, Beurre Blanc and Sauce Vin Blanc (with photos) (2)

3. Cook shallow-poached foods until just done. Fish and shellfish should appear opaque and feel slightly firm; the flesh of oysters, clams, and mussels should curl around the edges. Chicken suprêmes should appear opaque and offer slight resistance when pressed with a fingertip.

Transfer the paupiettes to a holding dish and moisten with a small amount of the cooking liquid to keep them from drying out while the sauce is prepared. Cover the food tightly to hold in the heat and prevent dehydration. Add the additional ingredients for the sauce to the cooking liquid as directed in the recipe. When well prepared, shallow-poached dishes reflect the flavor of both the food and the cooking liquid, and the sauce adds a rich, complementary flavor. In general, foods appear moist, opaque, and relatively light in color. Fish should not have deposits of white albumin, which indicates that it has been overcooked or cooked too quickly. Properly cooked shallow-poached foods are very tender and exceptionally moist. And because this technique is most often used with delicate foods, they have an almost fragile texture. If they are falling apart or dry, however, they have been overcooked. (see image below)

Recipe: Shallow Poaching Instructions, Beurre Blanc and Sauce Vin Blanc (with photos) (3)

4. Simmer the cooking liquid (cuisson) over direct heat to concentrate the flavor and thicken the liquid. A prepared fish velouté has been added to the reduced cuisson here. Other options include reduced cream, vegetable purees, or butter. (see image below)

Recipe: Shallow Poaching Instructions, Beurre Blanc and Sauce Vin Blanc (with photos) (4)

Recipe: Shallow Poaching Instructions, Beurre Blanc and Sauce Vin Blanc (with photos) (2024)


How to shallow poach fish? ›

Reduce heat so that liquid is 180°F. Slide fish into liquid so that it is just submerged. Adjust heat so that liquid stands between 165°F and 175°F. Gently poach fish until it is cooked through, 4-6 minutes per ½-inch of thickness.

What is beurre blanc sauce made of? ›

Pieces of cold butter whisked into a reduction of white wine, vinegar, and shallots creates a buerre blanc sauce. If you've ever added cold butter to thicken a pan sauce, you have made a warm butter emulsion—it's the same technique used in making this sauce.

How do you keep beurre blanc from splitting? ›

Overheating the emulsion will split it. To stabilise a beurre blanc, once the reduction is made, add 1 tbsp double cream and reduce again by about half. Strain, then whisk the butter in. balance the cloying nature of the fat.

What is the best liquid to poach fish in? ›

Broth-based poaching is refreshing and relatively low-calorie, while oil- or butter-based poaching makes for unbelievably tender fillets. Other staples like coconut milk or wine make great poaching liquids, too.

How do you make beurre blanc not break? ›

If your beurre blanc begins to break, saving it is often as easy as whisking in some a splash or two of cool water.

How long does beurre blanc keep? ›

Stabilized in this way, the sauce will hold in the refrigerator as long as three days and in the freezer for at least a month. Beurre blanc is really very easy to make. The main points to remember are not to let the sauce get too hot and not to add the butter too quickly.

What is another name for beurre blanc? ›

Beurre blanc ("white butter" in French) or Beurre Nantais is a warm emulsified butter sauce made with a reduction of vinegar and/or white wine (normally Muscadet) and shallots into which softened whole butter is whisked in off the heat to prevent separation.

How to thicken a beurre blanc? ›

Whisk in 4 – 6 tbsp of butter to thicken. Add more butter if you want the sauce thicker. Add lemon juice for more acid if you like. Adjust seasonings and serve.

What goes well with beurre blanc? ›

Beurre blanc traditionally accompanies white fish, like pike or bass, but is equally delicious on steamed vegetables like asparagus or cauliflower. The heat from the stove and the action of whisking help create a stable emulsion and a creamy sauce. Keep the heat low to keep the sauce from breaking.

What is the emulsifier in beurre blanc? ›

The lecithin contained within the eggs works as a perfect emulsifier in hollandaise, but what about the other sauces that don't contain egg? Beurre blanc and beurre monte are both butter sauces that have a water base. The only emulsifier is sheer elbow grease.

Why does my white sauce split when I add cheese? ›

It is most likely that it is the cheese in the sauces that is causing the sauces to curdle, or split. In particular some types of Cheddar cheese can let out a fair amount of oil during cooking at higher temperatures and this won't mix very well with the sauce in the dish.

What to do when butter separates in sauce? ›

A generous splash of water is all it takes. Here's how fix a broken sauce: Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan and reheat the sauce to a vigorous simmer, whisking constantly. The bubbling action will help re-emulsify the butter and bring back that thick, glossy sauce.

Can you freeze beurre blanc sauce? ›

Store frozen below 15°F. Frozen shelf life 24 months. After thawing store below 40°F for maximum of 14 days. Once opened use within 48 hours.

When poaching whole fish is it best to use the shallow poaching method? ›

When poaching whole fish it is best to use the shallow poaching method. Fish stored in a refrigerator at​ 41° F​ (5° C) will have approximately half the shelf life of fish stored at​ 32° F​ (0° C). Which cooking methods would be best for​ small, whole​ fish, such as​ trout?


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