A Bearnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot, a little tarragon vinegar, and butter, but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect.”
Fernand Point, French chef, and restaurateur
Bearnaise is a classic accompaniment for a Valentine’s Day steak particularly a Côte de bœuf or Chateaubriand, the rich luxurious sauce pairing excellently with the meat, it can also be served with fish such as Brill and Turbot. Bearnaise was most likely created by chef Collinet who also graced the culinary world with pommes de terre soufflées. The sauce is believed to have first been served at the 1836 opening of a restaurant near Paris, named after King Henry IV of France, who was born in the Béarn region, hence the name.
Bearnaise is a derivate of the master sauce Hollandaise, an emulsion of beaten egg yolks and warm butter and distinctively flavoured with the aniseed like Tarragon ( some recipes also contain Chervil ). You can use a good quality white wine vinegar, Champagne vinegar for fish or for an extra hit of tarragon use some homemade tarragon vinegar.
Bearnaise Sauce for 4 to 6
300 gr Unsalted Clarified Butter
4 fresh free-range Egg Yolks
2 largish Banana Shallot, peeled and finely sliced
5 tablespoons White Wine, Champagne or Tarragon Vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped Tarragon, reserve the stems
1 Bay Leaf
3 of 4 crushed White Peppercorns
Sea Salt and Cayenne Pepper
First clarify the butter by gently warming it in a small, heavy-bottomed pan. When the butter starts to foam, remove from the heat and leave it on the side to cool and for the buttermilk and impurities to sink to the bottom of the pan. Carefully ladle out the butterfat and pass through a fine sieve and discard the solids.
Pour the vinegar into a small aluminium saucepan and add the shallots, tarragon stems, bay leaf and crushed peppercorns. Place on a medium heat and bring up to a gentle simmer and reduce the amount of liquid by half. Remove from the heat and allow to completely cool then strain.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with a splash of cold water in a medium glass or metal bowl, then whisk in the infused vinegar. Carefully suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water ( do not allow base of the bowl to touch the water as this will overcook the eggs and cause them to quickly scramble). Whisk the egg yolks continuously until they have thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon and they have tripled in volume.
Remove the pan from the heat leaving the bowl suspended over the hot water and slowly pour in the clarified butter in a thin stream, whilst whisking continuously until the mixture is thick and smooth. Fold in the tarragon leaves and season, to taste, with salt and a pinch of Cayenne pepper.
Your Bearnaise will keep warm set above the warm water covered lightly with tin foil for fifteen to twenty minutes. If your sauce splits or curdles you have probably tried to add the butter too quickly, a couple of teaspoons of freshly boiled water whisked vigorously into the split sauce may help retrieve it. If this does not work, you can whisk up a further egg yolk in a fresh clean bowl then slowly add the split hollandaise whisking all the time.
Allergens in this recipe are;
There may be Sulphites in Vinegar