Bearnaise Sauce

This is from the New York Times Cookbook (1990), by Craig Claiborne. Claiborne was one of the 20th century's most important figures in the culinary world. Among other things he was (at LEAST) partially responsible for the rise of Julia Child; when Julia (unknown at the time) published the cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", Claiborne gave it an incredibly glowing review in the New York Times, which helped launch her to fame. He is also responsible for the modern form of newspaper restaurant reviews, even though he quit doing restaurant reviews fairly early in order to broaden his scope in the world of food. Actually a very interesting person. ANYWAY, this is a delicious recipe that basically destroys the myth that Bernaise Sauce is hard to make. It has three shortcomings: 1) It uses shallots which I don't keep around, 2) It uses 5 egg yolks which means you're left with a LOT of egg whites, and 3) No matter what I'm making it to accompany, I always eat it all in one sitting. Actually, I could eat it all with a spoon without ANY accompaniment. A LARGE spoon.


1 teaspoon chopped shallots
1 small tarragon spring, chopped
2 peppercorns
pinch of salt
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
5 egg yolks
1/4 pound plus 4 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon minced tarragon


1) Simmer the shallots, tarragon sprig, peppercorns and salt in the vinegar over low heat until the vinegar has been reduced by two thirds. Cool to lukewarm.

2) Add the egg yolks and beat briskly with a wire whisk. Place over low heat and gradually add the butter. Whisk until the sauce thickens. Strain. Season with cayenne and stir in the minced tarragon.