How to Make Béarnaise Sauce From Scratch

Updated on March 23, 2018
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A modern day renaissance man who enjoys etiquette, gourmet cooking, brilliant music, and fine arts.

Béarnaise sauce across a loin of lamb
Béarnaise sauce across a loin of lamb | Source

What Is Béarnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise sauce is a rich and creamy sauce that contains shallots and tarragon as the main flavor notes.

It is used for many dishes, mainly to accompany steak or steamed vegetables. Béarnaise sauce is also wonderful on eggs and certain seafood dishes, it goes very well together with salmon, for example.

Being related to Hollandaise sauce, some may use Béarnaise in its place. Some even use it as a dip for pizza.

History of Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise is the child of Hollandaise sauce, one of the five "mother sauces."

It was supposedly invented by chef Collinet in 1836. He was opening his new restaurant, Le Pavillion Henri IV in the vicinity of Paris. The name, Béarnaise, comes from Béarn, France, where Henry IV was born.

There are a couple of ways to make Béarnaise, some involving blenders or double boilers. Today we are doing it in a slightly different way because it all comes down to playing with temperature control.

Eggs Benedict is even tastier with Bearnaise sauce!
Eggs Benedict is even tastier with Bearnaise sauce! | Source

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: About a cup and a half. (4-6 people)
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Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter, unsalted
  • 3 shallots, chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
  • 1/2 cup white wine, Chardonnay is great
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon, preferably fresh
Pike perched on a sea of Bearnaise.
Pike perched on a sea of Bearnaise. | Source

Instructions

  1. Stick the butter in a medium saucepan, medium heat, and let melt completely.
  2. In a nonreactive medium saucepan, boil tarragon, shallots and pepper in the wine over medium heat. Reduce to a 1/4 cup. Lower heat and whisk in egg yolks. Whisk.
  3. After whisking for a while, you'll notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. As soon as you see that, remove from heat while continuing to whisk.
  4. Add melted butter ever-so slowly while whisking. Never stop whisking.
  5. If you notice that the sauce is about to break, add in a teaspoon of cold water to save the day. While still whisking away, add salt, cayenne, and paprika to the mix. When the butter is nicely blended in and the sauce looks rich and creamy, you are done. You may add more of the seasonings to taste.
  6. Enjoy your meal

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    © 2018 Lars Melby

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