In essence, it is an egg-lemon liaison, to which broth is added. The mixture is then poured into to the stew or stock pot, once the heat has been turned off, so that the egg does not cook or curdle. In Greek cuisine, avgolemono is used to thicken and flavor soups and stews, or to coat various dishes as a sauce.
The three basic techniques for preparing egg and lemon sauce:
- The first is simple and requires beating the whole eggs with a small amount of lemon juice (see individual recipes for amounts) using a wire whisk until frothy and then adding one or two ladlefuls of hot pot juices in a slow, steady stream, beating all the while. The avgolemono should be thick and frothy.
- The second is almost identical, except that only the egg yolks are used. You must remember, however, to double the amount of eggs; for example, if the recipe calls for two whole eggs, you will need four yolks. The resulting avgolemono will be creamier and more yellow, but higher in cholesterol.
- The third method calls for the whipping of egg whites, which makes for a thicker sauce. Whisk the whites until foamy and almost stiff. Whisk the yolk and lemon juice together until frothy. Fold the yolk and lemon mixture into the whites. Take a ladleful of pot juices and add them to the egg mixture in a slow steady stream, whisking all the while.
A few must-knows:
- Never put the lid back on the stew or stock pot once the avgolemono has been poured in; if you do, the eggs will cook and the result will be more akin to a loose omelet!
- Always prepare and add avgolemono immediately before serving.
- To reheat: Always do this in a double-boiler, stirring constantly so that the eggs do not cook.