The Joy of Béarnaise

There aren't many things that go better than beef tenderloin and béarnaise sauce. Traditionally French, this silky buttery sauce, which gets its flavour from a reduction of white wine and tarragon, adds an elegant touch to not only beef, but also poultry and fish dishes. Although I could have chosen any number of recipes from the myriad of French sauce books from our store, I selected my rendition from the very tried and true Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. You will find every recipe you could hope for in the Joy of Cooking making it the must have cookbook in any kitchen.

Béarnaise Sauce from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 1 cup

3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
6 sprigs tarragon, leaves removed, chopped, and reserved
8 whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
Bring to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, until reduced by two-thirds. Remove the tarragon sprigs and reserve the liquid. Melt over low heat:
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter
Skim any foam off the top and keep warm. Place in the top of a double boiler or in a large stainless steel bowl:
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons cold water
Off the heat, whisk the egg mixture until light and frothy. Place the top of the double boiler or the bowl over--not in--barely simmering water and whisk until the eggs are thickened, 3 to 5 minutes, being careful not to let the eggs get too hot. Remove the pan or bowl and whisk to cool the mixture slightly. Whisking constantly, very slowly add the melted butter, leaving the white milk solids behind. Whisk in:
Tarragon leaves and reduced liquid to taste
Season with:
Salt and white pepper to taste
If the sauce is too thick, thin it slowly with a few drops of the reserved liquid or warm water. Serve immediately, or keep the sauce covered until serving to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm.