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Béarnaise

Béarnaise is my favorite sauce. It’s good on almost everything: steaks, fish, fried potatoes, eggs, chicken. . . I could go on. Its finest employment in the Creole arena is in a dish called chicken Pontalba. The hard part of making Bearnaise is in making to make the mother sauce: hollandaise. That done, you add a few mellow herbs, usually with a light anise flavor. It comes out well if you use dried herbs, but if you turn up some fresh herbs, use those. But remember: fresh herbs require half as much than called for by fresh herbs.

  • 2 Tbs. tarragon or white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. very finely chopped chives
  • 1 Tbs. dried tarragon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried chervil
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 3/4 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Pinch cayenne

1. Combine the vinegar, wine, chives, tarragon, and chervil in a small glass bowl or cup. Microwave it for four minutes on high. That’s what it takes in my microwave; yours may differ. What you’re trying to do is boil away all but enough liquid to make the herbs wet.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and the vinegar briskly in a metal bowl set over a saucepan with about an inch of simmering water at the bottom. If you see even a hint of curdling in the eggs, take the bowl off the heat, but keep whisking. Keep going back and forth from the heat until the mixture turns thick and lightens in color. Whisk in a tablespoon of warm water.

2. Begin adding the softened butter, a tablespoon or so at a time. After about a fourth of the butter is in there, you’ll begin to see a change in the texture of the sauce. At that point, you can step up the addition of the butter a bit, and keep going till all the butter is incorporated.

3. Whisk in the cayenne, lemon juice, and the herb mixture from the first step. Keep warm, but not over any heat or it will break.

Filet bearnaise at the Pelican Club.

Filet bearnaise at the Pelican Club.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.