Bare-knees Sauce ♯

Sauce Béarnaise (pronounced bare-nays) is a rich sauce made with egg yolks and butter, and flavored with a reduction of white wine vinegar and herbs, most traditionally shallots and tarragon. Some recipes indicate that it should also contain a small amount of glace de viande, but this is by no means universal. It is an excellent accompaniment to grilled steak or fish. The name derives from the traditional province of France, Béarn. There is some debate, among the food police, whether Béarnaise is derived from Hollandaise, or vice versa (Hollandaise being one of the Mother Sauces). Both emulsions are made by whisking egg yolks over gentle heat while slowly incorporating butter.

Butter. And egg yolks. Not good when you’re trying to keep your lipids in check. But good. Really good in Béarnaise (and Hollandaise, too)! So I whipped up the following recipe to remain within my gastronomic guidelines, with the result that it, too, is really good—better, in fact than I’ve had in some restaurants touting they were serving the real thing. I have awarded the sauce an appellation announcing in courteous respect its relation to its progenitor.

Brennan’s Restaurant, in New Orleans, adds capers to the traditional Béarnaise when served with its dishes. It can make an interesting addition, at times, so I list it below; but normally, I leave it out.

  • 1 cup Holland-X
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • ½ tsp tarragon
  • ½ tsp chervil
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1 heaping tsp capers, minced (optional, for Brennan’s style)

Collect all ingredients except for the Holland-X and optional capers in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, and begin to reduce the volume. Meanwhile, make Holland-X as per its directions and keep it warm. When the vinegar-wine-scallion-herb mixture has reduced to 2 tbsp of liquid, fold the residue with the capers, if desired, into the Holland-X. Serve immediately. Bon appétit!

bastard brennan’s Béarnaise

One of the world’s best places to breakfast is the original Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street in New Orleans, where the fare is legend. One of their signature dishes is a version of Eggs Benedict, made with their version of Béarnaise sauce on top.

Now, classic Béarnaise sauce is a Hollandaise derivative that contains butter, egg yolk, shallots, vinegar, and tarragon, and requires a double boiler and considerable attention and patience. Brennan’s version uses butter, egg yolk, capers, tarragon vinegar, parsley, and lemon juice; it too requires a double boiler and considerable attention. Neither reheats well, and must usually be consumed when made.

The French have another classic, called bastard sauce, that is often cited in more anglicized cookbooks as “sauce batard,” because that’s the way the French pronounce it. It is the classic example of what we politely call “mock Hollandaise.” It is much less fragile (i.e., it is easier to make) than the real thing, can be made without a double boiler and will last for several days.

My challenge was to make Brennan’s Béarnaise less demanding to fix and less caloric to eat, while tasting like the real thing. I think my version below, while perhaps not as authentic, is still pretty good.

  • ¼ cup <butter>
  • ¼ cup egg substitute (X)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, minced
  • white pepper, to taste
  • <salt>, to taste

Mix all ingredients together and warm slowly, whipping until thickened.