Makes 1-1/2 cups sauce to serve 4 to 6
Béarnaise is traditional with red meats, particularly grilled steak and lamb chops, and with salmon it's world class.
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
Small bunch of tarragon
3 tablespoons white wine or tarragon vinegar
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon water
3 egg yolks
Small pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil or parsley
Melt the butter, skim froth from the surface, and set aside to cool to tepid. Pull the tarragon leaves from the stems and chop the leaves. Put the stems in a small, heavy saucepan with the vinegar, white wine, peppercorns, and shallots. Boil until reduced to a glaze, then discard the tarragon stems and stir in a tablespoon of water to cool the mixture to tepid.
Whisk in the egg yolks with cayenne pepper and a little salt. Set the pan back on low heat and whisk constantly until a mousse is formed that just holds the mark of the whisk, slightly thicker than for hollandaise. This should take at least 3 minutes.
Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the tepid butter, starting a tablespoonful at a time until the sauce starts to thicken. Once an emulsion has formed, you can add the butter more quickly in a slow, steady stream. Leave behind the milky whey in the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the chopped tarragon leaves and chervil. Taste and adjust seasoning, including cayenne pepper.
Getting ahead: Keep the sauce warm in the pan in a bath of tepid water, and stir it from time to time. I would not advise leaving it more than an hour.
The Good Cook
70 Essential Techniques, 250 Step-by-Step Photographs, and 350 Easy Recipes
by Anne Willan
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
$40.00/Hardcover ($60.00 Canada)
250 full-color photographs by Alison Harris
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2004
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