Beurre Rouge (Red Butter Sauce)

Beurre rouge (red butter sauce)

Keren Tan / Flickr CC 2.0 

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
435 Calories
46g Fat
1g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 435
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 46g 59%
Saturated Fat 29g 143%
Cholesterol 122mg 41%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 61mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Beurre rouge is a simple emulsified butter sauce that is great with fish or seafood. If you have heard of beurre blanc, it is the same, only beurre rouge (literally "red butter" in French) is made with a reduction of red wine instead of white. 

It is a nice sauce to have in your repertoire because you can whip up a batch on the spot (all you really need is red wine and butter), making it ideal for a quick sauce. But to do it properly, you will want to include shallots and vinegar as well. The shallots, in particular, add an intangible but still potent flavor and aroma to the sauce, while the vinegar imparts a concentrated tartness that helps cut through the richness of the butter.

Like beurre blanc, you can serve beurre rouge as an accompaniment with scallops, lobster, or other fish or seafood. But because it is richer than beurre blanc, you can even serve it with a steak.

Good wines for the reduction (or au sec, meaning "nearly dry") include cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, or Chianti, but any drinkable dry red will do. As for the red wine vinegar, there is no need to go crazy. The everyday stuff you keep in your pantry for making salad dressing will be fine.

Most importantly, your butter needs to be very cold. Otherwise, the emulsion will break and instead of a smooth, velvety sauce, you will end up with what looks like a pot of red wine with melted butter on top. This can also happen if you add the butter cubes too quickly or do not whisk hard enough. If that happens, take it off the heat and whisk in a few chips of ice until the emulsion comes back together.


Steps to Make It

  1. Heat the wine, vinegar, and shallots in a saucepan until the liquid comes to a boil, then lower the heat a bit and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced down to about 2 tablespoons. This should take about 10 minutes.

  2. While the liquid reduces you can cut the butter into medium (1/2-inch) cubes, but either leave this until the reduction is nearly finished or return the butter cubes to the refrigerator to keep them cold while the liquid finishes reducing.

  3. Once the wine-vinegar mixture has reduced to 2 tablespoons, reduce the heat to low and start adding the cubes of butter, one or two at a time, and whisk rapidly with a wire whisk.

  4. As the butter melts and incorporates, add more butter and keep whisking. Continue until you only have two to three cubes remaining. Remove from heat while whisking in the last few cubes, and whisk for a few more moments. The finished sauce should be thick and smooth.

  5. Season to taste with kosher salt. Traditionally you would strain out the shallots before serving, but you do not have to do this. Serve it right away.

Compare to a Béarnaise Sauce

This emulsified butter sauce is closely related to a béarnaise sauce. You can, in fact, make a red-wine version of a béarnaise sauce, just as this sauce is the red-wine version of beurre blanc. 

The difference is that in a béarnaise, the butter is warm and is added to egg yolks along with a reduction of red wine, whereas, with beurre rouge the butter is cold and is whisked into a red wine reduction. Butter temperature and added egg yolks are what make the difference.