Hollandaise and Béarnaise Sauces

Published on January 28, 2019

Béarnaise a lovely French sauce for meats that you can find in grocery stores. As will many things, store-bought doesn’t compare to homemade. If you’ve been intimidated to make Béarnaise, with the invention of various blenders, it’s become a much easier to make.

There are many ways to do it. Some are successfully doing it in a pan directly on the stove. Whatever works for you is the right way. Before there were blenders or immersion hand blenders, I was making béarnaise in a bowl over very warm water using a whisk. There’s a ‘feel’ to mastering making hollandaise, always having to be very careful to do it just right every time. The same is true when you use a machine to do the mixing. You still need to follow every step to avoid the disappointment of runny sauce, or worse, sauce that gets too hot and the eggs curdle and separate from the butter. This recipe is for doing it the old fashioned way using a bowl over water which I find to be much easier, less of a mess and less apt to not thicken.

If you’ve already made hollandaise, then you already know what you are doing but you will have to find the right addition of the vinegar, wine herb reduction, just has you had to find the amount of lemon juice that you preferred for your hollandaise.

Most of the recipes you find for béarnaise sauce are made with tarragon. The French way is made with two herbs, tarragon, and one that is more difficult to find, chervil (French parsley). I didn’t know this until I did some research. Now I’m curious and I’ll be on the lookout for the second herb needed to make an authentic béarnaise.

“Béarnaise sauce is a sauce made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and white wine vinegar and flavored with herbs. It is considered to be a ‘child’ of the mother Hollandaise sauce, one of the five mother sauces in the French haute cuisine repertoire. The difference is only in the flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, chervil, peppercorns, and tarragon in a reduction of vinegar and wine, while Hollandaise is more stripped down, using a reduction of lemon juice or white wine. Its name is related to the province of Béarn, France.”
“Béarnaise is a traditional sauce for steak.”

Shown with mashed cauliflower and braised asparagus.

Hollandaise Sauce