Béarnaise sauce can be a tad intimidating for many. The idea of converting egg yolks and butter over heat without turning it into buttery scrambled eggs, well, scary. In fact, I made this one with during my live classes and found myself sweating bullets, so to speak. Just as the French mother sauces require technique, patience, and willingness, so does this "daughter sauce". However, there is one hopeful caveat here, I'm giving you a cheat version that only requires one sauce pot, ice-cold butter, and a whisking wrist to complete the task.
Traditionally, the sauce calls for fresh tarragon. I prefer the flavor of thyme. But, please do what makes you happiest! Serve this sauce over salmon, steak, with pomme frites, or in place of hollandaise sauce. Here goes!
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 egg yolks
12 TBS salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes lightly frozen
1 small shallot, minced very finely
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, removed from stem
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped very finely
1 tsp pepper
1 squeeze of lemon juice
In a 4-qt sauce pan, heat your vinegar over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 2-3 minutes until it begins to reduce. Continue to simmer an additional 1-2 minutes, or until it has reduced nearly 50%. Reduce heat to very low.
Add shallots and cold butter. Immediate drop the egg yolks on TOP of the frozen butter.
Began to whisk vigorously, not allowing the egg yolks to cook.
Sprinkle in your pepper and herbs. Remove from heat, and return from heat once every 60 seconds. BUT keep whisking the entire time for about 3-4 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Imagine you a using your whisk to pump air into the emulsion, while blending it.
Keep scraping down the sides and bottom the entire time to keep the egg from cooking. Whisk and sing.
This sauce can get as thick or less than a real mayonnaise. It's your decision. But, it should be sauce-level thick, at least coating the spoon well. Once it gets to your desired thickness, pour in a serving bowl and brag.