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All About Food: Say ‘oui’ to béarnaise

All About Food: Say ‘oui’ to béarnaise

The secret to making a good béarnaise sauce is adding one liquid to another in a slow, steady stream

Hello and welcome to all about food. I don’t know if any one else plays this game in their head but if I were to make a wish list of the foods I could eat ever day – assuming that calories did not matter – steak béarnaise would be pretty close to the top of the list, along with all cheese, white crusty bread, eggs benedict, rack of lamb and crème brûlée – perhaps I was French (and very obese) in a former life!

Though somewhat sinful, there are times when you should throw caution to the wind and indulge in the foods you love…

Ask Gingergirl

Dear Gingergirl,

My husband loves steak with béarnaise sauce and I think after 22 years of marriage it’s time I gave béarnaise sauce a go!

Do you have a recipe I could try? I have been told it’s tricky to get right!

Thank you,

Carol, Roxboro

Hello Carol,

The secret to making a good béarnaise sauce is adding one liquid to another in a slow, steady stream while whisking vigorously.

This method is necessary because its ingredients don't mix easily. The same is true of hollandaise sauce and mayonnaise - all three are known as emulsion sauces. I have no doubt chapters of books have been dedicated to the art of making béarnaise sauce but the main dangers to look out for include: adding the butter too quickly, causing the emulsion to separate; curdling the egg yolks by using too much heat and adding too much tarragon which would overpower the sauce.

I am mindful that I run the risk of putting you off making one of the most delicious sauces in the world so I am just going to finish by saying, give it a go; once fear is replaced with enjoyment, cooking becomes a true pleasure.

Sauce béarnaise

3 tbsp of white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons of dry white wine

2 shallots, finely chopped

8 black peppercorns

2 free-range or organic egg yolks

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

150g of butter, melted and cooled

1 tbsp of chopped fresh tarragon

Place the vinegar, wine, shallots and peppercorns in a small, heavy based saucepan and boil until reduced to one tablespoon then strain through a small sieve. Pour the liquid into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the eggs yolks, mustard and salt then slowly add this to the warmed reduction, whisking continuously for three to four minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the butter until the sauce has thickened then add the tarragon. Sit the sauce over the pan of water with the heat off until ready to serve – preferably as soon as is possible.

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