A variation on Hollandaise sauce, bearnaise is a versatile sauce that can be used with chicken, fish, steak and sweetbreads.


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of white pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 minced shallots
3 crushed peppercorns
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
4 tablespoons wine vinegar


Simmer shallots, peppercorns, tarragon and wine vinegar. Reduce liquid to about one tablespoon. Strain liquid into heavy pan.

Melt butter in small saucepan. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Remove impurities from butter (One method is to: pour melted butter into plastic bottle with nozzle and stand the bottle upside down into a cup, the impurities will settle in the nozzle).

Remove the thick white piece that sometimes adheres to the egg yolks, put yolks and reduced vinegar-tarragon liquid into heavy pan. Heat on low on rangetop and beat continuously with a wire whisk until a thick custard forms (if the mixture is cooking too fast, remove from heat and set pan in cold water).

When the mixture is thick, gradually add the butter into custard drop by drop, beating constantly. Leave white residue in the bottom of the butter pan. Once butter is added, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Pour sauce into serving dish, keep dish in warm water at the same temperature as the sauce. Finish with minced fresh tarragon and chervil.

From: The Thorough Good Cook

Sauces 7. Béarnaise

Mix half a teaspoonful of flour with a little butter. Moisten with mushroom juice, and let it boil for a few minutes; thicken with the yolks of one or two eggs beaten up in cream. Add a few mushrooms, truffles chopped up fine, some essence of anchovy, and the juice of a lemon.

The following is how i was taught to make Bernaise sauce.


1C white wine 1C white wine vinegar 1 diced shallot 1tsp diced fresh tarragon 2C unsalted butter 4 egg yolks cayenne salt pepper

In a sauce pan pour white wine and white wine vinegar. Add the diced shallot and fresh tarragon. Bring to just below boiling and cook down till there is no liquid left. Add the egg yolks and whisk vigorously till mixed. Once the egg yolks start to firm, to the point where the are beginning to become a touch viscous, begin adding the butter. The key here is to balance the heat from the stove with the addition of the butter. I like to use room temperature butter cut into slices so i can control the rate of addition, and so that the butter isn't so cold as to shock the sauce into breaking. A good indicator of the proper viscosity is when, while whisking, one can easily see the bottom of the pan between strokes. When the desired consistency is reached it should be seasoned (salt, pepper, cayenne) according to taste.

The salt content should be just enough to bring out the sweet quality in the butter. The cayenne should be relatively minimal just enough to add a hint of spice to the sauce. Not enough that it becomes overly noticeable, or spicy for that matter.

While making this sauce it is vital that unsalted butter be used so that the flavor can be more precisely controlled. From the addition of the eggs till all the butter is mixed in completely one should never stop stirring. Pay very close attention while adding the butter. To much to fast may break the sauce, and adding the butter to slowly while your pan is over the heat will over cook and curdle your egg. Pay very close attention while cooking. Heat management and whisk speed are your best allies in making this sauce.

If while cooking the sauce and one notices a distinct separation of egg matter and butter (a clear liquid separating form the thicker yellow) this means that your sauce is "breaking" immediately remove your pan from the heat source, and begin whisking as fast as you can. If necessary splash with a little bit of cold water. By splash i mean run your hand slightly cupped through a stream from your faucet and toss that into the pan.

This sauce is excellent for steak, or grilled asparagus.

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