A classic of the classics in France !!!!The best known is the hollandaise, a smooth, light-as-a-feather sauce that is also addictively rich. It's a bit like a hot, looser mayonnaise, and like mayonnaise is perfect accompaniment to poached fish and vegetables. Hollandaise sauce can be flavoured with all sorts of other ingredients, most famously perhaps with tarragon to create beanaise sauce – the classic French accompaniment to grilled steak.
Hollandaise and other emulsions can be made with melded butter, but I prefer to use clarified butter as it gives a purer, smoother flavour.
Put the shallot, vinegar, wine, tarragon sprigs in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Whisk the egg yolks with a drop of water and add the shallot vinegar reduction in a stainless-steel bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water, the base of the bowl should not come into contact with the water. Continue to whisk until the sauce is thick. Do not boil or the eggs will scramble.
Remove the sauce from the heat, continue to whisk and slowly add the butter in a thin steady stream. Pass through a fine strainer, then stir in the chopped tarragon. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm while cooking the steaks.
French sauces should not intimidate you. After you've made a sauce one time you will see how simple it can be. And the name can add elegance to your meal. Try calling macaroni and cheese, Des Pates à la Sauce Mornay, and see if your family notices the difference.
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