Sunday, January 22, 2012

Béarnaise sauce, grilled steak and home-made chunky potato chips

Steak, chunky chips and Béarnaise sauce / Minutipihv, Bearni kaste ja friikartulid

Playing around with food is all fine, but sometimes I want a good old classic dish. Take the Béarnaise sauce. I first encountered back in Denmark in 1992/1993 - my host mum would make it regularly and serve it with grilled steak. It came in a powdered form from a packet, but to my 18-year-old tastebuds it tasted just fine and I instantly fell for the tarragon-infused creamy sauce. A good steak and tarragon-enhanced sauce Béarnaise is truly a match made in heaven! I wouldn't touch the Béarnaise made from a powder anymore, but I still love the sauce.

Note that the sauce has nothing to do with the Swiss capital, Bern. It gets its name from the birth-place of d'Artagnan (the one in "The Three Musketeers"), Béarn province, in South-Western France :)

The recipe below is based on Paul Gayler's recipe in Jill Norman's excellent The Cook's Book. Paul Gayler suggests using clarified butter to make this sauce (as well as it's "mother sauce", Hollandaise), but I am happy enough with using just melted butter myself.

What's your relationship to Sauce Béarnaise? Love it or hate it?

Béarnaise Sauce
(Béarni kaste)
Serves 4 to 6 (makes about 600 ml)

2 Tbsp white vine vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp white peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh tarragon or 2 tsp dried tarragon
2 small shallots, chopped
4 large egg yolks
250 g unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh chervil, chopped
sea salt

Place the vinegar, water, peppercorns, tarragon and shallots in a small pan. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 1-2 minutes, until reduced to about 2,5 Tbsp. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse and cool.
Strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl. Add the egg yolks and whisk until combined
Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie), the base of the bowl should not touch the hot water, but be just above it. Whisk the mixture for 5-6 minutes, until it thickens and is creamy and smooth in texture.
Remove the bowl and place onto a dampened kitchen towel (this helps to keep the bowl in place). Slowly pour in the melted butter in a thin stream, whisking vigorously all the time, until the sauce is thick and glossy.
Add the chopped tarragon and chervil, season to taste with sea salt and serve at once.


Ruxi said...

Never mind the sauce! I was never able to get a nice steak and chips at home. Too technologically advanced for me...

Pille said...

Ruxi, need a recipe for good home-made chips, eh?