Just like playing a musical instrument, the secret to cooking is to practice. Cooking is not a difficult art to master, we all need to eat. The more one knows about cooking, the less mystery there is, and the faster and easier cooking becomes. As cooking becomes easier, you become more comfortable being creative, embracing new ideas and trends. And the best part, you start to have more pleasure in the kitchen.
Béarnaise Sauce, a sibling to Hollandaise sauce, with flavors of tarragon and shallots, is an exciting and rewarding tool to have in your repertoire. Béarnaise Sauce pooled on grilled burgers or steak is a feast for royalty. Poached eggs with Béarnaise Sauce have no rival. For supper the other night, velvety Béarnaise Sauce on steamed vegetables and tomato slices made the meal. Think of it as warm vinaigrette, a rich, buttery and creamy emulsion that improves virtually everything it touches. You can make this sauce.
Start slowly and read the recipe. Understand it. Read it again.
Assemble all your ingredients and tools. No double boiler? No problem, a stainless mixing bowl that sets inside a saucepan works.
Reduce the vinegar mixture and set aside to cool. Then “bring up yolks”, whisking them with the vinegar mixture as they slowly cook over the steam from hot water. This will take time, but you’ll soon get the feel and the sight of the yolks as they take on air and increase in volume.
Once the eggs are right, slowly beat in the melted butter, one to two tablespoons at a time. Be careful with the heat so as to not scramble the eggs. Work the sauce whisking away, and watch it turn from a thin, greasy mass to a smooth, silky sauce.
Then taste it, and finish with your seasonings. Your masterpiece then needs to be eaten, enjoyed and celebrated.
Just like learning many new things in life, the first few times you try the recipe, it may not work out just right. Don’t despair. Call me.
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 small shallot peeled and chopped (about 2 tablespoons) *
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon water
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Sea salt, to taste
- Splash of lemon juice (optional)
- In a small pan over medium heat, combine the white wine vinegar, shallot, 1-tablespoon tarragon and fresh black pepper.
- Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Fill the bottom of a double boiler (or a small saucepan that a metal bowl fits into) with 2 inches of water and set over medium-high heat.
- Pour the cooled vinegar reduction in to the bowl of the double boiler (or a small metal mixing bowl). Add 1-tablespoon water and the 2 egg yolks. Whisk to combine well.
- Turn the heat down on the double boiler; put the mixing bowl in the pan, making sure it does not touch the water directly. Continue to whisk the yolks until they thicken. Be vigorous. It will take 5 to 8 minutes until they double in bulk.