I wish this was Julia Child’s recipe, but truthfully, I have never had great results with her hollandaise or bearnaise sauces. The fault is all mine, but fortunately, I learned a more reliable recipe from L’Academie de Cuisine:
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
1 small shallot
1 sprig tarragon
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 egg yolks
1 to 1 1/2 sticks butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1. Melt butter in a frying pan over very low heat. While the butter is melting, mince the shallot and tarragon into very tiny pieces. Think they’re small enough? Run your knife over them one more time.
2. Half fill a saucepan with water and place over medium-high heat.
3. Skim off any foam from the melted butter (now you have clarified butter) and pour butter into a glass measuring cup.
4. Put the pan back over low heat and add the shallot, tarragon, wine and vinegar. Reduce until almost dry.
5. Place the egg yolks and a tablespoon of water into a bowl and set it over the saucepan of simmering (not boiling) water. Whisk and whisk some more. It will take 7 or 8 minutes before you notice that the yolks are thickening—not cooking—just thickening. Don’t let the eggs get too hot or you’ll have scrambled eggs, not a sauce.
6. Slowly add in the butter, whisking the whole time.
7. Add the tarragon mixture, salt and pepper. If it needs a little zing, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Cook’s Note: You can keep this sauce warm for about an hour. Put saran wrap directly on the sauce to keep from developing a skin.
White Wine Vinegar