I had some leftover prime rib sizzling on the grill, and was trying to think of which condiment to serve with it. The "jus" was long gone, and none of the other usual suspects - aioli, ketchup, secret sauce - were moving me. What I really wanted was a nice dollop of béarnaise.
Béarnaise is a classic French sauce made with egg yolks, shallots, tarragon, a vinegar reduction, and lots of melted butter emulsified into it. Made correctly it is heaven in sauce form. The problem is you don't make béarnaise for one, and while I wanted the flavor of béarnaise, I didn't necessarily want a heavy butter-laden lunch.
So, I decided to make it without butter. There is no reason this should have been edible, but I was surprised at how good it turned out. I've used the "sabayon" technique before, which is simply whisking a liquid with egg yolks over heat until hot and frothy.
I skipped the shallots since I was about fives away from sauce-less beef, and got to work. My secret weapon was tangy, acidic tarragon Dijon. One of my favorite ingredients, it work like a charm. Several whisk-filled moments later I was enjoying a passable butterless version of béarnaise.
Disclaimer: There is no substitute for butter (if you said, "What about margarine?" then we really need to talk). If you dip into this expecting to taste classic buttery béarnaise you may be in for a slight letdown. Regardless, it was a delicious, light, and very béarnaise-esqe sauce for my meat. Enjoy!
2 egg yolks
2 tsp tarragon mustard
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 tsp white wine vinegar
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