Béarnaise Sauce





shallots chopped

1 tbs


6 stalks

tarragon from the jar of vinegar

1 tbs

chervil dried


white peppercorns crushed

1 pinch


4 tbs

tarragon vinegar


Egg yolks

6 oz

butter soft

  1. In a stainless steel lined pan, melt the butter, add the chopped shallots and soften.
  2. Add the tarragon and vinegar (Buy the tarragon stalks in vinegar, and replace the vinegar with Tarragon vinegar as yougo along), peppercorns, and herbs. (You can use dried tarragon and parsley, if you must.)
  3. Reduce this mixture by 2/3. The rule is "The volume of the reduction should equal the volume of the yolks." In restaurants it is common to make up a big bottle of reduction, and keep it in the refrigerator.
  4. The reason it is called Béarnaise Sauce -- after Escoffier is that this is his recipe, only modifying the method slightly. Everyone loves the taste, but the Master deserves the credit.
  5. Put the yolks into a stainless steel bowl and beat them with a whip until frothy. Strain the reduction, and beat it into the yolks over low heat in a double boiler, or over hot water. They should become thick and ribbon from your whip to the bowl.
  6. Now beat in the melted or soft butter, very slowly at first. The rule is, what you have in, you can add. The sauce becomes thick, like a mayonnaise. Take it off the fire and continue beating as the bottom of the bowl may have enough heat to break the sauce. If it breaks, just start with a fresh egg yolk in a new bowl and add the broken sauce by whipping. It comes back fast.
  7. Finish the sauce with some fresh tarragon.
  8. You can finish this béarnaise sauce with a touch of melted glace d'viand (meat stock, reduced to 1/10th of its original volume). This is called Sauce Foyot or Valois, according to Escoffier.
  9. You should taste this sauce carefully. If it is too acid, thin it a bit with white wine. If it is too herbal, thin it with some hollandaise. It probably won't need salt, but if it needs pepper, use cayenne. It should be just barely noticeably peppery. Serve the sauce tepid. Try serving individual portions in a mushroom cap or artichoke bottom, garnished with a sprig of fresh tarragon. Have a sauce boat of extra on the side to pass.
  10. Some men (ladies never) grunt when buttering their rare steak with Béarnaise. I believe this is a learned behavior, not instinctual. I will admit it does taste good enough to grunt.
  11. You should make this sauce within 15-30 minutes of serving, but the reduction, which is what takes the time, can be done well ahead