The Farmer’s Beurre Blanc

Butter and white wine…already you know this is good! Literally the French term for “white butter,” a buerre blanc is a traditional sauce with simple ingredients. Quite elegant and versatile for many dishes and full of garden flavors, this beurre blanc can become a backbone for your garden living lifestyle.

Brown an onion in some olive oil. Salt and pepper for flavor and then add garlic once the onion begins to caramelize. This is the background and foundation of your sauce, for the caramelized bits of onion and garlic are the keepers of amazing flavor. The wine will deglaze the pan, releasing the browned goodness of the onion cousins. Allow the wine to come to a simmer and reduce by a third. This step, reducing the wine, intensifies the flavor of the wine, concentrating the bouquet and natural essence of the wine. Tossing in a couple bay leaves awakens the sauce and steeps their flavor in the wine reduction.

Now for the namesake - butter. Add the cubed butter in shifts, whisking the butter into the sauce and allowing it to thoroughly melt it. Once the butter has thoroughly melted into the wine, the smooth sauce can now be livened up even more with some fresh lemon juice and zest. White pepper makes a great complement to this easy sauce as well, yet, where does the garden come into play?

With the basics of this sauce under your belt, this sauce can be created year-round and then flavored with the best of each season’s goodness. Thus, the very essence of garden living itself – taking a standard or basic idea or product, and making it totally seasonal for each special time of year – can be incorporated into this classic sauce.

Making this dish in the summer, I infused and garnished the sauce with basil – a quintessential summer flavor. Compatible with the lemon and wine, the basil brings the beurre blanc to a summer table, presented with fresh grouper, summer succotash, and grit cakes.

Fresh caught black grouper is like a seafood steak in itself. A thick and mild white fish, these filets of grouper take no time to cook. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly brown the filets in some olive oil. Once the fish begins to brown, finish cooking this fruit de la mere by braising it in the beurre blanc for fantastic flavor. Some grits, leftover from breakfast, can be cut into wedges and serve as the foundation to build your plate upon. The succotash, flavored with basil as well, is the base of my Summer Vegetable Pasta and makes for the perfect side to this fresh dish.

Whether you make your beurre blanc in the summer and infuse the sauce with summer herbs or make it with toasted pecans in the fall or rosemary in the winter or parsley and chervil in springtime, prepare this sauce as a toast to the season! From this Farmer’s garden and kitchen to yours, bon appétit!

The Farmer’s Beurre Blanc

  • 1 large Vidalia onion
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1 stick of good butter
  • Salt, cracked black and white peppers
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle of a good white wine
  • Juice and zest of a lemon (or two!)
  • Chop the onion and brown the pieces in some good olive oil
  • Once caramelized, add the garlic and cook the garlic until tender
  • Deglaze the pan with the bottle of white wine and bring to a simmer – reduce by a third…add bay leaves as well.
  • Once the wine sauce has reduced, add the butter in cubes, whisking each batch of cubes into the wine so it is thoroughly melted and incorporated into the sauce. Season with salt and peppers…teaspoon of each or to taste.
  • Add the juice of the lemon and its zest, continuing to allow the sauce to simmer and reduce a bit more.
  • After this mixture has reduced by about a fourth, add the basil and remove from heat.
  • Braise fish, chicken, or pork and also serve as a delicious sauce on vegetables or bread…enjoy!