Bearnaise sauce (French: Sauce Béarnaise) is a sauce of butter and egg yolks flavored with tarragon and shallots, with chervil, cooked in wine and vinegar to make a glaze. "A Béarnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot, a little tarragon vinegar, and butter, but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect," wrote the restaurateur Fernand Point (1897-1955), the father of modern French cuisine, in Ma Gastronomie.
The sauce was likely first made by the chef Collinet (the inventor of puffed potatoes (pommes de terres soufflés) and served at the 1836 opening of "Le Pavillon Henri IV", a restaurant at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, not far from Paris. Evidence for this is reinforced by the fact that the restaurant was named for King Henry IV, a gourmet himself, who was born in the former province of Béarn.
Like Hollandaise sauce, Bearnaise sauce is an emulsion of butter in egg yolks. The difference is only in their flavoring: Bearnaise uses a glaze of vinegar and tarragon, while Hollandaise uses lemon juice. Such emulsions require some practice to prepare properly. The prime dangers are curdling the egg yolk mixture through excessive heat, and separation of the emulsion through too-rapid addition of the butter.
- 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 small onion
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup (75 - 100 g) 3 - 4 oz butter
- salt and black pepper
- Put the vinegars and finely chopped onion in a small saucepan; boil steadily until reduced to 1 tablespoon. This is the flavorful glaze. Strain and set aside to cool.
- Add the egg yolks and whisk well with a balloon whisk.
- Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and continue whisking. Gradually add the softened butter, whisking until the sauce thickens and all the butter has been added.
Season and serve.
- Pomiane's directions for Bearnaise sauce quoted (http://www.foodandwine.net/food/food012.htm)