Nothing beats good home cooking, they say – but there are some things that are just more effort to make than they are worth. Mayonnaise or choux pastry, for example. Or béarnaise sauce.
A good béarnaise sauce is the perfect complement to a filet or entrecôte steak.
The recipe has been around for centuries. It relies on reduced vinegar, egg yolks, clarified butter and herbs. That may sound simple enough, but it remains a challenge for even the best chefs.
Shallots and vinegar have to be reduced just so, the egg yolks have to be warm and the butter has to be clarified and added almost drop by drop. Traditionally, the recipe uses tarragon and chervil – and the latter isn’t always easy to come across.
There are some tricks you can use to make the process a bit simpler. For example, you can whisk the eggs in a bain-marie, rather than adding them to the reduced vinegar. This will prevent them from curdling. You can also take your chances with straightforward melted butter, rather than clarifying it.
I have an even better trick: I use shop-bought béarnaise sauce. I love cooking at home, but I have to admit that I think life’s too short to bother making my own.
Mind you, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good béarnaise when I go to a restaurant. I love the taste – and the knowledge that somebody has gone to some lengths to make it for me.