is a sauce made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and white wine vinegar that is flavored with herbs. It is considered to be a “child” of the mother Hollandaise sauce (recipe in the video below), one of the five mother sauces in the French haute cuisine repertoire. The difference is only in the flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, chervil, peppercorn, and tarragon, while Hollandaise uses lemon juice or white wine. Its name is related to the province of Béarn, France.
In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. Béarnaise is a traditional sauce for steak.
The sauce was likely first created by the chef Collinet, the inventor of puffed potatoes (pommes de terre soufflées), and served at the 1836 opening of Le Pavillon Henri IV, a restaurant at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, not far from Paris. This assumption is supported by the fact that the restaurant was named for Henry IV of France, a gourmet himself, who was born in the Béarn region, a former province now in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in southwestern France.
Like the Hollandaise sauce, there are several methods for preparing a Béarnaise sauce. The most common preparation is a bain-marie method where a reduction of vinegar is used to acidulate the yolks. Escoffier calls for a reduction of wine, vinegar, shallots, fresh chervil, fresh tarragon and crushed peppercorns (later strained out), with fresh tarragon and chervil to finish instead of lemon juice. Others are similar. Alternatively, the flavorings may be added to a finished Hollandaise (sans lemon juice).
Joy of Cooking describes a blender preparation with the same ingredients. A faux Béarnaise can be produced by adding capers and tarragon to a Hollandaise.
Derivatives of Béarnaise sauce
- Sauce Choron or Sauce Béarnaise Tomatée is a variation of Béarnaise without tarragon or chervil, plus added tomato purée. It is named after Alexandre Étienne Choron.
- Sauce Foyot (a.k.a. Valois) is Béarnaise with meat glaze (Glace de Viande) added.
- Sauce Colbert is Sauce Foyot with the addition of reduced white wine.
- Sauce Paloise is a version of béarnaise with mint substituted for tarragon.