25 February 2013

Béarnaise Sauce

I don't know for other parts of the world, but in Belgium the quintessential sauce to accompany steak is béarnaise sauce.  The sauce can be found ready made in the supermarket and some brands are really good, but nothing can beat a homemade béarnaise.

Making béarnaise is not that complicated really, but it requires a bit of preparation ahead of time, if you don't have ready-made gastrique at hand. Gastrique, a vinegar reduction, is the basis of this egg and tarragon sauce.  You can make it in a larger quantity as it keeps in the fridge for a long time.  I prepared it yesterday, knowing that I would be making this sauce tonight

So let's take a look at the key for any succesful béarnaise, the gastrique.

Gastrique - Ingredients.

* 1⁄2 L tarragon vinegar
* 1⁄2 L water
* 1⁄2 L white wine
* 3 small shallots
* 3 garlic cloves
* 10 peppercorns
* a few sprigs of thyme
* a few leaves of laurel
* a few sprigs of fresh tarragon

Gastrique - Preparation :

Pour the water, wine and vinegar in a pan and put the resulting liquid on medium heat.

Bruise the garlic cloves and add them to the pot. Peel and dice the shallots and add them with the bruised peppercorns and the herbs (thume, laurel, tarragon) to the gastrique.

Let it reduce to approximately 1/3 of the original quantity.

Pour the liquid through a colander and reserve it.

Ingredients for the béarnaise :

* 150 g butter
* 3 egg yolks
* 3 egg cups of gastrique (made beforehand)
* a few sprigs of fresh tarragon
* a few sprigs of chervil (to tate)
* salt
* pepper
* 1⁄2  lemon (or a dash of gastrique)
Preparation of the béarnaise (yields 4 servings) :

Clarify the butter by melting it on a low fire and removing the protein residues floating to the surface.

Break the eggs and keep the yolks in a bowl.  Whisk them lightly.

Add the required amount of gastrique and whisk both ingredients to a foamy liquid.

Pour everything in a high pot and keep whisking, while heating it up on a low fire.  Keep whisking until you end up with a foamy mousseline.

Pour the clarified butter bit by bit, while whisking continously.

Season with salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice (or gastrique).

Shred the fresh tarragon leaves and the chervil and add the shredded herbs to the sauce.

Serve hot.

Tonight, I substitued the regular jacket potatoes I make with steak for some potato pancakes.  I will post the recipe for them later this week.


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