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Saturday, February 7, 2009

love your steak, part 1: bearnaise sauce

bearnaise sauce

Instead of scrambling to make dinner reservations on Valentine's Day, where every restaurant is obligated to do a prix fix "tasting menu" and shoo you in and out on a 90 minute turn, we like to stay home. And cook steak. We'll take the excuse to go out of course, but just the night before or after. My favorite steak place ever is Kevin Rathbun Steak here in Atlanta. They have these great little sauces you can get on the side, and I love to get several of them and then try and figure out how they're made. I've gotten pretty good at replicating two of my favorites, and for my V-day gift to you, I'll share them. Today it's bearnaise sauce (after trying many, I've settled on this version from March 2008 Gourmet magazine), tomorrow I'll show you roasted garlic butter.

Grocery list: 2 T chopped fresh tarragon, 1/4 c white wine, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup chopped shallots, 1 stick butter, 3 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice.

shallots in white wine

Start by mixing the wine and white wine vinegar in a saucepan with the shallots and one tablespoon of the tarragon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

tarragon white wine vinegar reducing

Simmer until the mixture is reduced to about one quarter of the original amount, or about 2 T of liquid. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. You can toss the shallots and tarragon, and move the liquid into a glass bowl.

tarragon wine reduction for bearnaise

If you don't have a double boiler, you can improvise by selecting a glass bowl that fits partially down into a saucepan, like I've done here. Fill the saucepan with hot water, but you don't want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. The idea is to have the indirect heat of the steam warm the contents of the bowl.

whisking egg yolks for bearnaise

Now, once the water in the saucepan is simmering, and the liquid in the bowl is warm, whisk the egg yolks in one at a time. Keep whisking, and after a few minutes the eggs will thicken to a consistency of a thick mayo.

adding butter and tarragon to bearnaise

Drop one tablespoon of the butter at a time into the sauce, whisking after each addition until smooth, until you've used all 8 tablespoons in the stick of butter. Then, add the remaining one tablespoon of minced tarragon and about 1/2 tsp of lemon juice. Serve warm with a steak.

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