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Please help identify traditional French sauce


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Last weekend I ate at a friend's favourite restaurant because it was his birthday. The steak had a sauce I've never heard of and can no longer remember. It started with T. Asked the Carrie Ann Moss lookalike waitress and she said it was a very traditional French sauce (this is a bistro type place) with tarragon and I don't remember what else but mostly herbs and vinegar. Definitely no cream. But apparently not actually like a vinagrette because when I pointed out the possible similarity to my friend, since he was starting with their butter lettuce salad with herb vinagrette and wouldn't want to be redundant, she looked quite pained. What was it?

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If it was a French Bistro/ Brassiere type place it probably was Sauce Choron, it starts with your typical Bernaise reduction ( White wine vinegar, shallots, black peppercorn mignonette, and TARRAGON) it is then mixed with egg yolks and a little water to form a sabayon, this in turn has clarified butter added to it. You then have Sauce Bernaise, now you take a reduction of finely diced peeled seeded tomatoes and shallots, butter and reduce that, it is then added to the Bernaise along with some tomatoe paste and chopped FRESH TARRAGON and Chervil. This is Sauce Choron, a classical presentaion with steak.

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Why don't you call the restaurant and ask the chef what it was? I'm sure they'd be flattered and happy to tell you what it was and what went into it. :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
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A big hint would be what color was it? :smile:

According to my culinary school notes in my Soups, Stocks, and Sauces class it could be:

Sauce Châteaubriand. A small sauce made from the Espagnole mother sauce and consists of: white wine, shallots, lemon juice, cayenne, butter, tarragon

Sauce Piquant. A small sauce made from the Espagnole mother sauce and consists of: shallots, white wine, white wine vinegar, cornichons, tarragon, parsley, chervil

Sauce Béarnaise: A small sauce made from the Hollandaise mother sauce and consists of: Shallots, tarragon, chervil, peppercorns, white wine vinegar, salt, cayenne

Sauce Choron: Another small sauce made from the Hollandaise mother sauce and consists of: Sauce Béarnaise with tomato paste added.

However, According to Escoffier, Sauce Choron is Béarnaise sauce minus tarragon and chervil. Add tomato paste instead. :hmmm:

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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I believe the name of the sauce in question is "tarragon sauce."

What throws me on this is the vinegar. None of my recipes for tarragon sauce ('sauce estragon') call for it.

The 'classic' tarragon sauce is a simple infusion of tarragon in a sauce veloute (stock/butter/flour).

I also see one in Peterson's sauce book that is a white wine/tarragon infusion, with demi-glace added, reduced, and strained, and finished w/ the tarragon leaves. Depending on the wine, I suppose that could be confused with vinegar.

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I believe the name of the sauce in question is "tarragon sauce."

What throws me on this is the vinegar. None of my recipes for tarragon sauce ('sauce estragon') call for it.

The 'classic' tarragon sauce is a simple infusion of tarragon in a sauce veloute (stock/butter/flour).

I also see one in Peterson's sauce book that is a white wine/tarragon infusion, with demi-glace added, reduced, and strained, and finished w/ the tarragon leaves. Depending on the wine, I suppose that could be confused with vinegar.

Maybe this is a "traditional" French sauce, rather than a "classic" French sauce. In other words, rather lifting something directly from Escoffier, maybe the chef did what French chefs a housewives have been doing forever - taking the stock or pan drippings, adding a flavoring (vinegar, cream, wine, garlic etc.) that complements the dish and they have on hand, and chopping in the terragon.

The waitress goes back and asks the chef what the sauce is and, since there is no official name, he says -- as others have suggested -- "sauce estragon" or "terragon sauce," which is accurate but, for purposes of trying to reproduce it at home, not altogether helpful.

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The waitress goes back and asks the chef what the sauce is and, since there is no official name, he says -- as others have suggested -- "sauce estragon" or "terragon sauce,"  which is accurate but, for purposes of trying to reproduce it at home, not altogether helpful.

And that's probably exactly what happened in this case -

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Last weekend I ate at a friend's favourite restaurant because it was his birthday.  The steak had a sauce I've never heard of and can no longer remember.  It started with T.  Asked the Carrie Ann Moss lookalike waitress and she said it was a very traditional French sauce (this is a bistro type place) with tarragon and I don't remember what else but mostly herbs and vinegar.  Definitely no cream.  But apparently not actually like a vinagrette because when I pointed out the possible similarity to my friend, since he was starting with their butter lettuce salad with herb vinagrette and wouldn't want to be redundant, she looked quite pained.  What was it?

I hope she wasn't pained because she realized she put the salad dressing on your steak instead of the béarnaise. :laugh:

"Clearly" this wasn't a sauce based on béchamel, veloute, cream or tomatoes, nor does it seem as if it was any sort of a brown sauce. I'm not convinced it's not a béarnaise sauce although it doesn't sound as if there were egg yolks in it. It almost sounds as if it was closer to the green sauce one might get in Spain with grilled meat. There must be a classic French equivalent, but it doesn't come to mind.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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