Steak Béarnaise

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“One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”
Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist, 1879 – 1955

On holiday, when the children were still young, it was great to put them to bed and act out a Murder Mystery box set. We enjoyed working out who killed the Duke of Felthorpe or Baroness Audry Von Munchen. And Malcolm always had this cunning plan. Whilst we were falling about laughing at his ingenious costume and eloquent accent, he was cleverly working out who did it. And won!

Typically, we would fine dine during our ‘Murder’ nights; Steak Béarnaise with Potatoes en Papillote, followed by luxurious Chocolate Soufflé. So, maybe Malcolm could work out where the name for the Béarnaise sauce came from, as there is some controversy. It is either originally from the region of Béarn, South of France, or was created by Chef Jules Colette at the Paris restaurant ‘Le Pavillon Henri IV’ in the 1830s. No-one really knows whodunit!

Steak Béarnaise

Serves 4
4 x 200g (7oz) fillet steaks * 220g (7oz) butter * 1 tbsp oil * 1 shallot, finely chopped * 2 tbsp white wine vinegar * 2 tbsp white wine * 3 tarragon sprigs * 1 tsp dried tarragon * 3 egg yolks * 2 tbsp water * 1 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves * salt & freshly ground black pepper

Rub the steaks with oil, season with salt and pepper, cover and leave to one side. Clarify the butter by melting it in a small, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. When the butter is foaming, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to stand for a few minutes so that the white solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Sieve the butter through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Put the shallot, vinegar, wine, tarragon sprigs and dried tarragon in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook until reduced to one tablespoon of liquid. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Whisk the egg yolks with the water and add to the saucepan. Place the pan over a very low heat or over a simmering bain-marie and continue to whisk until the sauce is thick. DO NOT BOIL or the eggs will scramble!

Remove the sauce from the heat, continue to whisk and slowly add the butter in a thin steady stream. Pass through a fine strainer, then stir in the chopped tarragon. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm while cooking the steaks. Griddle fry the steaks for 2-3 minutes each side for rare, 4 minutes each side for medium, and 5-6 minutes each side for well-done. Turn the steak only once, otherwise it will dry out. Pour the sauce over the steaks.

I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.

There are more recipes in the section THE FRENCH COLLECTION, a selection of authentic French recipes.