Béarnaise sauce is believed to have been derived from Hollandaise sauce. In terms of how long it has been around, Béarnaise sauce is relatively new. While some sources claim that the chef who created Béarnaise sauce is not known, others have attributed it to a chef named Jules or Jean-Louis Collinet. He is said to have created it in 1836 for the opening of a restaurant just outside Paris.
The restaurant was called Pavillon Henri IV and was located in Chateau Neuf, which was home to the French royals in the 17th century. Collinet is said to have named the sauce Béarnaise after the Béarn region of France. It was named to honor the restaurant’s royal namesake. Henri IV was a fan of fine cuisine and came from Béarn in the Pyrenees mountains.
Collinet made the same base that was used for Hollandaise sauce but switched out the lemon juice for white wine vinegar and added herbs like shallots, tarragon and chervil.
Béarnaise sauce appears to have arrived in the US shortly after the Second World War, which is when it began to show up in cookbooks. Today, you can find Béarnaise sauce being offered in most US steakhouses.
Béarnaise sauce flavor profile
Like Hollandaise sauce, Béarnaise sauce is rich and creamy since it is made from the same emulsified egg yolks and butter. The big difference has to do with the added seasonings.
Béarnaise sauce is made with herbs like tarragon and shallots, which gives it a bright and savory quality that you won’t get from the much simpler Hollandaise sauce. The use of white wine vinegar gives it a striking sharpness that helps to cut through steaks and other fatty meats.
For the best flavor, make Béarnaise sauce right before serving, but you can make it up to two hours ahead of time if necessary. If you do this, you will need a way to keep its temperature warm and relatively stable.
Health benefits of Béarnaise sauce
While Béarnaise sauce won’t meet most people’s definition of a superfood, it does have compounds that are beneficial for health. Nutritious ingredients like egg yolks as well as the herbs it contains can provide some important nutrients like:
- Vitamins: You can get a significant amount of vitamin A and smaller amounts of B vitamins from a serving of Béarnaise sauce. These vitamins are present in butter, egg yolks and fresh tarragon.
- Minerals: The main ingredients in Béarnaise sauce are also rich in important minerals like phosphorus, selenium and iron.
Béarnaise sauce in your diet may be beneficial for treating and preventing certain health problems like:
- Weak bones: Several ingredients in Béarnaise sauce are rich in minerals that are important for strong, healthy bones. Phosphorus and calcium are two of them.
- Vision problems: Along with vitamin A, egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which can protect your eyes against common causes of blindness like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Béarnaise sauce contains a significant amount of saturated fat per serving. Saturated fat increases blood cholesterol, which means that it can also increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Béarnaise sauce is known for its versatility. It is particularly enjoyable with beef and often served with grilled sirloin cuts and T-bones. Béarnaise sauce also pairs well with seafood. Use it on salmon and shellfish like shrimp or scallops.