4 sprigs fresh tarragon

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 medium shallot, chopped

1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns, crushed with the side of a knife

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Pinch cayenne

2 egg yolks

6 ounces butter (1-1/2 sticks), softened and cut into 12 pieces

2 teaspoons water

Bearnaise sauce

Put together a makeshift double boiler: a small metal or glass bowl that fits almost entirely in a small saucepan, but is big enough not to fall into the pan completely.

Remove the leaves from the tarragon sprigs and chop them finely, then set them aside. Chop the stems.

Put the vinegar, wine, tarragon stems, shallots and peppercorns in a small saucepan. Reduce to a syrup—about 1-1/2 tablespoons. Strain into a small stainless-steel bowl (see next step), reserving liquid and discarding solids.

Put 1/2- to one-inch of water in the bottom of your double-boiler saucepan—just enough that the water level doesn’t quite touch the bottom of your bowl when it’s set in the pan. Set the pan over high heat while you’re doing the next step. Once it boils, turn the heat down to a bare simmer.

In the bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the reduction, the salt, the white pepper and the cayenne until the mixture is uniformly yellow and slightly thickened.

When the water in the pan is simmering, set the bowl in the pan and whisk slowly but constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. Be sure to whisk throughout all parts of the bowl. (If steam starts to leak from underneath the bowl, turn the heat down a little.)

Add one tablespoon of butter, whisking until the butter is incorporated, then add another tablespoon of butter. Repeat until all the butter is incorporated.

The sauce should be thick, smooth and glossy. Remove sauce from the heat.

Stir in the minced tarragon, and check for seasoning.

Whisk in the remaining two teaspoons of water.

The sauce will keep over the hot water for a half-hour or more, provided you whisk it occasionally. Alternatively, pour the sauce into a thermos or air pot until ready to serve.

The sauce will keep over the hot water for a half-hour or more, provided you whisk it occasionally. Alternatively, pour the sauce into a thermos or air pot until ready to serve.

 

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