Learn How to Make Bearnaise Sauce

Take your steaks to the next level with this 'Mad Genius' technique.

Bearnaise sauce — aka that creamy, tangy condiment often served over steak (not to be confused with hollandaise sauce, which doesn't include the white wine vinegar that gives bearnaise its signature acidity) — is notoriously finicky to make at home. But, as Food & Wine Culinary Director-at-Large Justin Chapple explains, it doesn't have to be. After breezing through the initial steps (chopping shallots, mincing tarragon with "nice sexy strokes," and adding them both to a white wine vinegar reduction), Chapple uses some 'Mad Genius' tips to move things along.

1. Warm Your Blender: Chapple warms up the carafe of his blender by filling it with really warm tap water, then dumping it out. "The reason this is important is because when you start to incorporate the butter during the pureeing process, you want to make sure that it's not going to seize up because the blender is too cold," he explains. Just make sure to take a kitchen towel and remove any excess moisture from your carafe afterwards, before you begin adding your ingredients.

2. Take It Slow: Chapple adds some egg yolks to the warmed-up blender, then begins to pour in his vinegar reduction a few drops at a time. "If I add it too quickly it's actually going to scramble the egg yolks," he says.

3. Use Room Temperature Butter: "Usually when you make bearnaise or hollandaise at home, you're incorporating a clarified butter or a melted butter," Chapple explains. "But in this case, I'm starting with room temperature butter. I'm going to use my spoon and add one to two tablespoons at a time." After a while, the sauce should thicken to a "super silky and beautiful" texture, and kosher salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice provide the final touches. To see the recipe come together, check out the video above.

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