When people think of French food, a few things that instantly come to mind are: cheese and bread, wine, and French sauces. Succulent and rich, the sauces are what makes a good meal a great one.
One of the most popular sauces in France is the Béarnaise sauce. It’s a creamy emulsion of shallots, tarragon, and white wine vinegar transformed into a buttery sauce. As an accompaniment, it is thick and rich making it a perfect drizzle for steak, vegetables, or eggs.
You could buy it in a store, but if you would like to avoid artificial ingredients, I recommend trying to make it at home. It certainly is easy enough!
It is believed to have been created in 1837 by Head Chef Jean-Louis-François Collinet, at the Restaurant Pavillon Henri IV in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a suburb of Paris. The restaurant is in the former residence of French King Henry IV, who was from the ancient sovereign principality of Béarn near the Spanish border, hence the name of the sauce in tribute.
The Béarnaise itself was served as the perfect accompaniment to grilled cuts of meat. But can also be used as a sauce for cooked asparagus or poached eggs, making it a versatile condiment to have on hand.
And the classic French béarnaise sauce recipe is not difficult, and only takes around 20 minutes are so. So let’s get to it shall we? Allons-y!
Cooking without alcohol
The traditional French béarnaise involves a few tablespoons of white wine, which theoretically gets cooked off on the stove, as it blends with the eggs. However, if you are preparing the béarnaise for children or people who don’t drink alcohol, you way want to substitute it with the same amount of lemon juice.
Difference between the Béarnaise and the Hollandaise Sauces
The hollandaise is one of the 5 French mother sauces, and the Béarnaise sauce is a derivative of the hollandaise. To compare,
- Béaranaise: sauce made from egg yolk, butter, white wine vinegar, and herbs.
- Hollandaise: sauce made from egg yolks, melted butter, and lemon juice.
Both the béarnaise and hollandaise sauces go with a variety of dishes including meat and fish, with the Béarnaise having a stronger and tangier flavor due to the shallots, herbs and vinegar. The Hollandaise, on the other hand, is more discreet and creamier in taste, using a reduction of lemon juice.
There are other similar sauces as well, that are all variations of the hollandaise and béarnaise sauces:
- Tartare: sauce made from egg yolk, chopped pickles, capers and herbs such as tarragon and dill.
- Aioli: sauce made from garlic, egg yolks, olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard.
- Rouille: spicy sauce for a bouillabaisse. Made with egg yolks, olive oil, mustard, garlic, saffron, and cayenne pepper.
Frequently asked questions
What to serve sauce béarnaise on?
The béarnaise sauce taste delicious with nice piece of red meat like prime rib or lamb that has been cooked on a stove, in the oven, or charbroiled.
It also goes as well with other options like grilled fish and poached eggs and as a sauce with:
– lyonnaise quenelles
– baked potatoes
– in a hamburger
– quiche lorraine
What drinks to serve with it?
Can you freeze it?
No, since it contains egg yolks, béarnaise sauce cannot be frozen as it will develop bacteria. (Some websites will tell you it is possible, but there is a long list of requirements in order to stop it from spoiling and to avoid getting sick. I prefer not to take the chance.)
Fresh is what will taste best, but you can however prepare it a day or so in advance and keep it in the fridge.
- 3 egg yolks
- 200g Butter
- 2 small grey eschalot (shallot) onions
- 4 tablespoons of dry white wine *
- 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of fresh tarragon finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of freshly grated pepper
- Pinch of salt
- (Optional) Fine herbs eg. chervil or parsley
- (Optional) Pinch of espelette or cayenne pepper
- Peel and chop the shallots into fine pieces.
- Wash and remove the leaves from the herbs. Chop the tarragon and chop the chervil.
- Combine the the minced shallots and herbs in the vinegar and white wine in a small heavy-bottom saucepan.
- Cook at a low temperature, until the liquid is reduced (around 7-10 minutes).
- Melt the butter until it is runny in the microwave.
- Remove from the saucepan from the heat and wait a few minutes.
- Add the 2 yolks and whisk.
- Return to low heat and mix constantly to air into the béarnaise. Be careful and keep at low temperature so that the egg yolks don't cook.
- Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously.
- Season to your liking with salt, pepper, and any herbs.
- Serve immediately while warm.
* If you are preparing the béarnaise for children or people who don't drink alcohol, you way want to substitute wine with the same amount of lemon juice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 421Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 246mgSodium: 364mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g
Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for entertainment purposes only.
If you enjoyed that, check out our other classic French recipes that are easy to prepare. Bon appétit and à bientôt !
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