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Sauce BĂ©arnaise

Traditional, easy and all-natural recipe for Sauce Bearnaise, the king of the French sauce kitchen.
Course Sauce
Cuisine French
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Author Johan Johansen

Ingredients

For Bearnaise essence:

  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 bunch fresh tarragon

For sauce:

  • 4 egg yolks room temperature
  • 250 grams clarified butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

First things first:

  1. Go through the bunch of tarragon, pick off about a handful of the prettiest leaves and set aside. We will stir these in for garnish just before serving.
  2. Chop remaining leaves plus the stems roughly. We will use these for the essence.

Make Bearnaise essence:

  1. In a sauce pan over medium heat, add shallots, tarragon stems, the uglier tarragon leaves, vinegar, white wine, salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook till liquid is reduced by half.
  3. Pour essence through a strainer into a cup or other vessel and set aside. You should have about 3-4 tablespoons of highly acidic, highly flavorful liquid. You can use this straight away or reserve for future use.

Time out:

  1. This is where you pause before moving on. If you're cooking the sauce right away, you'll want to make sure that everything else is timed and at the ready. If you're not cooking right away, you'll want to seal up and refrigerate or freeze the essence and continue on some other day. Once you move on, you're committed. There'll be no turning back, no changing your mind, no waiting till some other day.

Making Sauce Bearnaise:

  1. Pour the clarified butter into a sauce pan and place on stove over low heat.
  2. In another sauce pan over low heat, add four egg yolks followed by the essence, whisk thoroughly to break up yolks and combine ingredients.
  3. Still over low heat, whisk egg yolk/essence mixture for a few minutes until airy and slightly thickened.
  4. Grab pan of clarified butter and very carefully tip a teaspoon or so of butter into the egg yolks while whisking constantly and energetically with your other hand.
  5. Once first hit of butter is absorbed, add another teaspoon still whisking constantly wait for it to emulsify into the eggs, then add another teaspoon and so onwards.
  6. Once a few tablespoons or so of butter has been incorporated, you can switch to slowly pouring butter into the eggs in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly as you do.
  7. When all the butter is absorbed and sauce is rich and creamy, continue to heat over low heat until sauce is warmed through.
  8. You can check the temperature with a thermometer or a (clean) pinky finger. Sauce should be warm, not hot. No more than 55-60 degrees. It will curdle easily!
  9. When sauce is warm, very quickly chop the tarragon leaves left for garnish, stir them into the sauce along with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  10. Taste for seasoning, add salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed and serve immediately.
  11. Sauce Bearnaise is best served with a side of rib eye or New York Strip steak and a pile of fries. Salad is traditional, too, so why not try some bacon-wrapped green beans?

Recipe Notes

If making emulsified egg-based sauces over direct heat makes you nervous, you can use a double boiler: Whisk the sauce together in a heavy bottom bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water.

If whisking sounds tiresome and hard, fear not. It's okay to use a hand mixer or similar.