sauce béarnaise

from Barbara Poses Kafka at house & garden

I didn't discover poached eggs until the morning after my 23rd birthday, when a group of friends went to brunch at Café Luna at 16th & P. Upon the revelation of my first Eggs Florentine, I immediately commenced a semi-systematic quest over the DC metro area to find the best possible eggs, and settled on La Fourchette (18th & Belmont in Adams Morgan). My ideal Saturday has come to be an 8- or 10-mile run in the morning; rolling in pain on the couch for an hour, an ice pack on each knee alternately; brunch (at this point, my third or fourth meal of the day -- this is why I like running distance!) and fantastic coffee at La Fourchette.

Béarnaise sauce (basically Hollandaise with an infusion of tarragon, white wine, and shallots -- aren't you drooling already?!) is at the heart of my new love affair with brunch. While it's work-intensive, if it's too cold to go outside or you just don't feel like moving far, it's so worth the work. Get your magical roommate Claire to poach the eggs for you.

- nh, 17 jan. 2004

  • 1/3 cup white tarragon vinegar (plus 2 more tablespoons if you are using fresh tarragon)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 crushed peppercorns
  • 1 heaping tablespoon very finely chopped shallots
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped leaves of chervil or parsley
  • 6 sprigs fresh or 4 sprigs bottled tarragon (with 2 tablespoons liquid from bottle)
  • Ingredients for 1 recipe Hollandaise Sauce, omitting lemon juice or vinegar

Combine in a small heavy saucepan vinegar, wine, peppercorns, shallots, chevril or parsley, and tarragon with liquid or the extra tarragon vinegar. (Reserve the leaves from half of the stalks and put aside.) Cook over high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup or less. Strain through very fine sieve or cloth. Make Hollandaise Sauce using strained liquid instead of lemon juice or vinegar. Very finely chop and add remaining chevril or parsley and remaining tarragon.