I made this delicious herby buttery sauce for the 3rd time last night for my Dad’s birthday meal. Each time I have made this it has held some mystery to me – from when it has gone wrong and split – to when it has worked. The reason being I have not noted doing anything differently at each time which was probably down to rushing as I was trying to cook the sauce at the same time as the main. I have now learnt to take a breath and make the Bèarnaise in advance.
I first made Béarnaise for David as it’s his favourite sauce which had been ruined by a memory of an insipid and cold serving from the extremely expensive and disappointing RARE (which quelle surprise has since closed its restaurant) and we needed to erase this food memory.
I am a fan of James Martin’s, but for love nor money I can’t find in our selection of supermarkets Tarragon Vinegar which he recommends. But this is not a problem as my second ever cook book, Nigel Slater’s Real Food has a recipe which uses White Wine Vinegar and Aspalls is a store cupboard staple in our house (two words, Rioja grapes). If you are a foodie or enjoy a good blog I like Henry Chervallier Guild’s who some describe as an uppercrust hippy. Its amazing what learning journey’s food takes us on.
What I love most about the Aspall brand is that their ciders have been made since 1728 and have remained in their family for 8 generations making them the 10th oldest family business in the UK – I always feel good supporting an independent business.
So what next…
The method is quite easy it just needs some speed and patience.
Do all your prep – get your bain-marie ready by placing the bowl over a good two inches of simmering water, separate your eggs, wash and chop the tarragon, peel and finely dice the shallot.
Ensuring you have everything ready makes this process less stressful.
Equipment essential to this dish: ballon whisk, glass bowl (that sits comfortable on a pan to make a bain-marie), small non-stick milk pan, chopping board and a sharp knife.
- banana shallot – sliced and diced finely
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons of Aspall white wine vinegar
- teaspoon of dried tarragon
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 2 egg yolks
- teaspoon of Maille Dijon mustard
- 150g almost melted butter (I personally use melted)
- Handful chopped tarragon (use more or less to your taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon of Maldon Sea Salt.
Fresh tarragon before getting the chop
- Place the shallot, whole peppercorns, dried tarragon, white wine vinegar and water into the small pan
- Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer to reduce this by half (it only takes about 2 minutes)
- Take the reduction off the heat.
- Put your two egg yolks into the glass bowl and whisk quickly together then add the Dijon mustard and mix in.
- Next strain the reduction into the eggs leaving the solids behind.
- Mix and keep whisking then start adding the melted butter, quickly whisking, adding small amounts, regularly, whisking each addition of butter well.
The sauce should start to thicken, looking smooth at all times and eventually looking like a rich custard
- Keep whisking thorough each addition of butter , until you have added it all; but leaving the milky residue behind (don’t panic if the butter does not separate clearly, as I have never felt this has impacted on the Bèarnaise)
- Remove from the heat and take a spoon and fold in your fresh tarragon adding a good pinch of salt – taste and add more seasoning if required
- Add to a warmed bowl and serve
I recommend you make this in advance of your meal as it will stand nicely at room temperature.
We love this with any cut of steak and I made this on Sunday night to use up the tarragon. We had this with a delicious Ribeye steak from Farmer Copleys or why not do as Nigel Slater suggests and simply enjoy with chips as a dip.