Monday, March 29, 2010

Bearnaise Sauce

"Don't be saucy with me, Bearnaise."

After yesterday's Hollandaise success, I thought I'd follow up with a small sauce - Bearnaise. There are quite a few variations in the preparation of this sauce. I'm not sure there's one true way when it comes to things like straining the wine, shallot and tarragon reduction. Strain or not? Some people use 1/4 cup of wine and a 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar. Some folks just go with 1/2 cup white wine. Fresh tarragon or dried? Choices choices.

Bearnaise Sauce

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon minced shallot
3 egg yolks
1 stick butter
pinch salt

1. In small saucepan combine wine, tarragon, and the shallot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced to 1 to 2 tablespoons.

2. Strain mixture and allow to cool.

3. Clarify butter and reserve.

4. Whisk 1 tablespoon of the reduction into egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl.

5. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing 2" of barely simmering water. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.

6. Continue to whisk rapidly for about 3 1/2 minutes. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble.

7. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened. This may take several minutes, so be prepared for a serious workout. You will know the sauce is thick enough when ribbons form when the sauce drips from the whisk back into the bowl.

8. Season with salt, strain into a serving dish and pour over beef.

     If you've never clarified butter, here's a link to a YouTube video. It's pretty easy. If I can do it without lighting myself on fire or burning my eyes out, anyone can.

     You can clip a thermometer to the side of the bowl and achieve a temperature of 140 degrees. This is pretty hard to do, since it's easy to knock the thermometer off or into into the sauce. Ask me how I know. If you have a gentle simmer and the bowl isn't touching the water, you can be assured that you have the correct temp.

     If you get some scrambled egg bits in your sauce, pour it into a strainer and collect the now-creamy sauce.

     Pay close attention when adding the butter so as not to add too much. The yolks can only accommodate so much butter before the sauce separates.

     If you are not serving the sauce immediately, cover the sauce with plastic wrap so that the wrap is actually touching the sauce to keep a skin from forming. Be sure to leave a small corner exposed so that steam can escape and reduce the chance of bacteria forming. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

     Just below the recipes to the right is a link to a YouTube tutorial that shows the whole process quite nicely.

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