Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dairy-Free Béarnaise Sauce

[Recipes and Technique]

Bacon-wrapped grilled ribeye and steam asparagus with bacon bit.

Just because your diet requires the elimination of dairy, it does not mean that you have to give up the pleasures of exquisite French sauces such as a Béarnaise.  

This sauce is a smooth, creamy, rich sauce flavored with shallots and the herb tarragon. It has many uses, often as an accompaniment to steak or drizzled over vegetables. It also goes well with seafood and eggs. The uses of Béarnaise sauce are only limited by your imagination.
Béarnaise sauce is made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and white wine vinegar and flavored with herbs, most notably, tarragon. It is a variant of Hollandaise sauce, one of the five 'Mother' sauces in the French haute cuisine. The difference primarily in their flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, chervil (sometimes), black pepper, tarragon and white wine. Its name is related to the province of Béarn, France.


    • 1/8 cup white wine
    • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon minced shallots
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
    • 1 egg yolk (pasteurized egg yolk to be more cautious)
    • 1/8 pound Earth Balance Buttery Stick (1/2 stick)
    • salt and pepper to taste (just a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper)
    • Fresh lemon juice (optional)


    1. In a small saucepan, bring wine, vinegar, shallots, tarragon, salt and pepper to a light boil over medium high heat and reduce to about 1-2 tablespoon (au sec), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
    2. Beat in egg yolk until smooth. Place the saucepan over another saucepan filled with 1 inch of simmering water (or use a small double boiler if you have one). Whisk sauce until it begins to thicken. Whisk in Buttery Stick bit by bit. Before serving, add just a light squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
    3. This recipe can be made with butter for those who do not have issues with dairy (e.g., lactose, casein).

Bacon-wrapped grilled ribeye, roasted new potatoes and rosemary garnish.


Again, your choice of when, where and how to use a Béarnaise sauce is largely dependent upon your own creativity, but here are some common uses to get you started.

  • Béarnaise sauce works beautifully with grilled steak. Its creaminess softens the charred character of the meat, and the tarragon and shallots accent the steak's flavor. Serve it drizzled over the top of the steak, or on the side in a small pouring container. Poultry also goes well with Béarnaise  The sauce's delicate flavors don't overpower chicken, and tarragon is a natural pairing with poultry.
  • As a sauce for fish, Béarnaise might be the absolute best choice. It is creamy and light, so it doesn't overwhelm a fish's delicate flavor. The creamy texture works well with both firm and flaky fish. The slightly lemony tarragon subtly enhances the flavor of seafood without taking away from its natural flavor. Along with fish like salmon, bass and halibut, Béarnaise sauce also goes well with shellfish, especially lobster, scallops and crab.
  • Because of its similarities to hollandaise sauce, Béarnaise sauce can be used in many of the same ways. One of the well know uses of hollandaise is on eggs Benedict. Béarnaise sauce can be easily substituted. The main difference is that Béarnaise has more of a savory quality and lacks the strongly citrus flavor of hollandaise, which can improve or detract from the dish, depending on your personal taste. Béarnaise is delicious with eggs in general, whether fried, scrambled or poached.
  • Béarnaise sauce can be used in place of hollandaise in any recipe to bring a more savory flavor. Vegetables often served with hollandaise include asparagus, broccoli and zucchini. Drizzle the sauce over them for a tangy, herbal kick.
  • Béarnaise sauce is thick enough to be used as a condiment on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise. It can also be drizzled over open-faced sandwiches. Try it poured over a croque-madame, a ham and cheese sandwich topped with an egg. Béarnaise is a delicious addition to any sandwich, but works especially well with roast beef, ham, steak and chicken sandwiches.

Bon appétit!

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