Recipe: Sauce - Bernaise

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Constantine's Bernaise Sauce

Mild adaptation for Pastured Farm Fresh Eggs.


Course: Sauces

Cuisine: French


Serves: 8


  • 3 Egg Yolks Pastured, if possible
  • 2 sticks Unsalted butter Pastured, if possible
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Fines Herbes Tarragon, Chervil, Parsley, Chives
  • 1 teaspoon shallots minced (dried work fine)
  • 1 dash White Pepper
  • 1 dash Paprika Sweet
  • 1 pinch salt to taste


  1. In a double boiler, mix vinegar, shallots, and first teaspoon of Fines Herbes and reduce by half.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 sticks of Unsalted butter in separate pan on low heat... the goal is to *melt* the butter, not nuke it to supernova temperatures - this is important.
  3. Separate 3 egg yolks and set aside.
  4. When vinegar is reduced, strain into small bowl... rinse and clean double boiler with cold water.
  5. In now clean double boilers, add egg yolks - break and stir... then slowly add reduced vinegar to yolks while whisking. Vinegar will have cooled a bit during the transition...but if added too quickly while hot, you may cook your eggs. Don't do that.
  6. Returning to the stove and your still steaming water in the bottom of double boiler... we have the yolk warmed and mixed with vinegar reduction and melted butter... the next step is to emulsify the butter and eggs with a whisk. Don't panic.
  7. The trick to blending the butter and eggs is to add melted (not OMG HOT) butter to warmed eggs... and to raise the temperature of the mixture in a controlled fashion. If you keep this in mind and remember this simple fact of physics: removing your mixture from the heat source will reduce the heat(!) - then you will do fine.
  8. We do this by first whisking the egg/vinegar mix on the (indirect) heat for, say, 15 seconds. Remove from heat (see above) pour in some warm (ahem) butter and whisk. Now, return to heat (always assume indirect from here on out, ok?) keep whisking count to 7, pour in some more butter, keep whisking count to 8, remove from heat. Keep whisking off heat, pour in some more butter... then return to heat all over again. Do this until the butter is gone. Got it?
  9. When the butter is gone and your sauce is a golden mayonnaise like consistency, remove from heat... add the other (generous) tsp of Fines Herbes (you may need to add more according to your taste), white pepper, paprika and salt. Briefly return to heat to mix all ingredients and taste. Finis.
  10. Separate into two small sauce bowls (you have those, right?) ... cover with foil and set aside. Now go finish preparing the meal with which this goes.
  11. Notes: Ok, the bakers among you are panicking... how much butter did he say to add at each step? I didn't. The answer is not too much. Too little is ok (just more steps). Too much, and, well, you broke your sauce. So, err on the too little side while you learn... and eventually you will learn how to push the envelope... Because:
  12. If you break your sauce... don't panic. Save the broken mess, clean out your pan, crack 2 more eggs, gently warm them up in the double boiler... now start adding back the broken mess - do it slower than you did it last time-the time when you broke your sauce. Everything will be fine.
  13. Observation: after a decade of making this with pastured and (when possible) raw butter I recently checked the temperature of the mixture at its peak: 160 degrees. That was higher than I had guessed, but for the sqeemish among you, that's the temp at which the bad bacteria are killed... so rest easy. Oh, and Bakers, this is an observation, not a step - don't make this dish with a thermometer in the will just get in the way.
  14. Enjoy.

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