There are many chef's tricks out there used to give dishes a professional look and to improve taste or texture. If you have ever eaten in a restaurant and the sauce, gravy, or jus on your plate is glossy and lovely with a smooth, silky flavor, then the chef most likely finished the sauce with a technique called monter au beurre.
When translated, monter au beurre means "to mount with butter." To the cook, this means to finish a sauce with butter, giving it that gloss and shine. Creating this finish on a sauce is easy, but does need a little planning. You'll want the butter cubed and chilled until very cold before vigorously mixing into a sauce on low heat. The meeting of cold with hot and the whisking makes an emulsion and changes the whole appearance of sauce.
- 2 cups gravy (or sauce)
- 1/2 ounce chilled butter (cut into pea-sized cubes)
Gather the ingredients. You will also need a French whisk.
Heat your sauce on medium heat so it is hot, but not boiling (no higher than 195 F). If the sauce is too hot, the butter will simply melt and make the sauce oily. If you notice this happening, remove the sauce from the heat and whisk fiercely to blend the butter back in.
Using a whisk, add the butter one piece at a time and whisk vigorously until each cube has incorporated into the sauce. Repeat, only one piece at a time, and do not try to rush this process. Once the sauce reaches a shine and silkiness you like or want then stop.
If you are not serving the sauce immediately, keep it warm over a bain-marie (hot water bath). Never allow the sauce to touch the hot water and never reheat the sauce directly in the pan or it may split.
Should a disaster happen and the sauce and butter splits (separates), immediately remove from the heat. Take a few pieces of ice-cold butter from the fridge and whisk again—this will quickly bring down the temperature of the sauce and should bring it back together again.
Serve immediately with your favorite entree.
- Beurre monter should not be confused with beurre maniere. The latter is a mixture of equal amounts of flour and chilled butter. Small pieces of the cold paste are whisked into a gravy or sauce to thicken it. The sauce or gravy will never be as shiny as with beurre monter, but it will thicken more.
- Beurre monter can also refer to a slightly different technique: When a sauce is made directly by whisking cold butter in a saucepan with a little water, but without a base sauce. This creates a beautifully light, aerated sauce that's unstable as it has nothing to bind it together. The sauce can be used to cook fish and meat, on eggs, or used within a sauce.