This is one of the great French butter sauces. It’s tricky to make because it can curdle or – if you really overheat it – even scramble! However, if you’re careful, and add a little mustard powder to help stabilise it, you should have no problems. It is delicious with any plain meat or fish, and especially with Boeuf en Croûte.
Now this recipe is from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, although I use John Tovey’s blender method.
1 tbsp coarsely-chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tbsp coarsely-chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped shallot (or spring onion)
6 black peppercorns, crushed
2 tbsps white wine vinegar
150ml dry white wine
3 egg yolks
1 tsp mustard powder (Colman’s)
25g butter (room temperature)
175g melted butter
Note: the above ingredients are what Delia Smith uses. The only difference in John Tovey’s ingredients is that he uses 2 tbsps lemon juice + 1 tbsp tarragon vinegar (instead of Delia’s 3 tbsps white wine vinegar) and he also adds 1 tsp of castor sugar (which Delia doesn’t use).
Method (John Tovey, blender)
Blend the egg yolks, salt and mustard for a second in the blender goblet. Reduce wine/vinegar mixture in a small pan and slowly dribble the hot liquid through the hole in the top of the blender. Melt the butter in a pan and add to the blender in a steady stream. Finally, add a tablespoon of meat (or fish) juices and incorporate.
Method (Delia Smith, bain marie)
Start off in a small saucepan by boiling the herbs, shallot, peppercorns, wine vinegar and white wine together until the mixture has reduced by about a third – in other words there should be about 3 tbsps of slightly syrupy liquid left in the pan. Now whisk the egg yolks and mustard together in the top of a double saucepan.
Strain the vinegar mixture through a fine sieve onto the egg yolks, and add a tablespoon of water and beat over hot (but not boiling) water, using a wire whisk. Next beat in the solid butter, about 10 g at a time, then gradually add the melted butter, a drop at a time, still whisking after each addition until all the butter is in and the sauce has thickened. Taste and season with salt and keep warm over the hot water till needed.