From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
3/4 to 1 cup
- Butter is very important in this recipe—please read the Notes for further information before beginning the preparation.
- 1 to 1-1/2 cup clarified butter made from 1/2 to 3/4 pound butter
- 1/3 cup wine vinegar, or tarragon vinegar
- 1/3 cup dry white wine, or dry white vermouth
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots or the white part of green onions
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, or 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
- 1/4 teaspoon whole thyme leaves
- 1 large bayleaf
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 large or extra-large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- tarragon to taste, probably about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried, more if fresh
- lemon or lime juice to taste (optional)
- salt and white pepper to taste
- In a medium-sized saucepan bring the vinegar, wine, and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and add the shallots, tarragon, thyme, bayleaf, salt, and pepper. Boil down until only 2 tablespoons, or a little less, of liquid remains. Set the saucepan aside.
- To make clarified butter, either melt the butter in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat without stirring or melt it carefully in a microwave oven on about one-third power. Once the butter is melted, carefully spoon off the white foam on the top, then set it aside without disturbing the milky residue at the bottom.
- Put the 3 egg yolks into the blender, cover, and beat for 30 seconds on high speed.
- Strain the vinegar mixture into the blender, pressing on the mixture with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid, cover, and beat for 30 seconds on high speed.
- Place a funnel through the opening in the top of the blender cover. Turn the blender to high speed. Carefully spoon, or pour, the melted butter into the funnel. Add the butter slowly, so that it takes 1 to 2 minutes for all the butter to be absorbed. Do not use any of the milky residue at the bottom of the butter.
- Taste the sauce, and season carefully with additional salt and white pepper and perhaps a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar.
- Add the chopped parsley and another teaspoon or so of tarragon. Blend on very low speed for a few seconds.
- Scrap the sauce into a serving dish and serve while still warm.
- The methods used in this recipe are primarily those of "Quick Bearnaise" from the iconic 1961 New York Times Cook Book by Craig Clairborne, along with a few modifications, mostly of additional ingredients, from other sources, primarily the equally iconic 1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child. There are literally thousands of different recipes for bearnaise but all of them are closely related in both basic techniques and primary ingredients.
- The best bearnaise is supposed to be served slightly warm. Since it is very difficult to keep bearnaise warm after being made, it is generally safer to make it at the very last moment, using butter that has just been melted and is still warm. If this is impractical, and the sauce must be made in advance, keep it at room temperature until served—if refrigerated, its texture becomes that of hardened butter and is almost impossible to be restored to its original state.
- The thickness of the sauce will depend on how much clarified butter is used: the more butter, the thicker the sauce. The bearnaise should be fairly thick, although this is a matter of individual taste: in most restaurants it is served as a very thick sauce, but one that can still be poured; in others it is somewhat thicker and must be spooned from its serving dish, although being perhaps a little thinner than mayonnaise.
- Many recipes, particularly modern ones, specify that the butter should be unsalted. If using unsalted butter, then more salt will probably have to be added during the final tasting of the preparation.
|Categories: French cuisine, Sauces
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