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Bearnaise sauce

We rarely do the classic sauces, sometimes they look a bit intimidating. This Béarnaise is easily made and tastes superb, perfect for when only steak & chips will do. It will keep warm in the bowl while you cook your steaks.

Wine suggestion: Béarnaise is a slightly piquant sauce, so you have to make sure the wine you choose isn’t too acidic. Our choice was the Ridge Lytton Estate Petite Sirah. This is full bodied and richly plum flavoured with peppery tannins and very high levels of anthocyanins (colour and anti-oxidants). Crucially though it has only a medium acidity and so doesn’t fight the sauce. A rare enough grape, but in expert hands, wonderful indeed.

Béarnaise Sauce – serves 2

  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • a large sprig of tarragon, bruised
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tarragon leaves, finely chopped
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • sea salt

Put the vinegar, black peppercorns, shallot and whole tarragon sprig into a small saucepan with 50ml of water, then bring to the boil. Simmer until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, then strain and reserve the liquid.

Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water.

Put the egg yolks, a cube of butter and a pinch of salt into the bowl. Whisk together, then add half the reserved liquid. Keep whisking until the mixture comes together and starts to thicken, then gradually add all of the butter, one cube at a time. Make sure that the mixture has emulsified (and not separated!) before you add any more butter each time. If it becomes too thick you can add teaspoons of warm water to thin it.

When all the butter has been added, remove the bowl from over the pan. Add a squeeze of lemon and stir in the chopped tarragon. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt, white pepper, or more of the reduced liquid if needed. Leave the sauce in the warm bowl (off the heat) and it will keep warm for about 30 minutes but keep stirring occasionally.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Meat Feasts by Si King & Dave Myers, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015.)

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