Sunday, October 2, 2011

Recipe: Making Classic Bearnaise Sauce

Classic Bearnaise Sauce

There are a number of variations out there on the classic Bearnaise sauce, but I have found the one courtesy of Irma Rombauer and the classic cookbook Joy of Cooking to be my personal favorite.  Making a great Bearnaise sauce takes patience and plenty of practice.  Fortunately if you mess up or overcook your eggs, just throw them out and start over.  The sauce is simple to make and when done right is one of the best traditional French sauces out there.  For some additional information, Bearnaise is a cousin of the hollandaise sauce and is flavored when you incorporate a tarragon, black pepper, and shallot infused, white wine, and vinegar reduction into an egg and butter mixture.  The most traditional uses of Bearnaise sauce involve it being served over grilled meat and fish.  

Here now is the recipe courtesy of Joy of Cooking:

Combine in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer, uncovered, until cooked down by 2/3:


3 tablespoons dry white wine

3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar (or white wine vinegar if you don’t have tarragon infused vinegar)
1 shallot, minced
6 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves removed and set aside
8 black peppercorns, lightly crushed

 Once reduced, remove the tarragon sprigs and strain out the liquid setting it aside.  Prepare a double boiler and Into a bowl that will set atop a double boiler place:

3 large egg yolks

1 ½ teaspoons cold water

Off the heat, whisk the egg mixture until it becomes light and frothy.  With the water barely simmering, place the bowl over the top of the double boiler (be careful not to set the bowl in the water)  and whisk until the eggs are thickened, about 2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the eggs get to hot or they will curdle and 
 you’ll have to start over. Remove the bowl from over the water and whisk to slightly cool the mixture.   

Whisking constantly, very slowly add:


½ cup warm (NOT HOT) clarified butter

Then stir in to taste:
Reserved tarragon leaves, chopped
Reserved tarragon reduction liquid
Salt & Pepper

If your sauce is too thick you can thin it slightly by adding a little warm water or some of the tarragon reduction, if you have any remaining.  Serve immediately or keep the sauce covered with plastic wrap until serving to prevent a skin forming over the sauce.

 Filet Oscar: A grilled rare filet with Bearnaise sauce and lump crab.  A very traditional and classic way to use the Bearnaise.

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