Choron Sauce: The Tomatoey Béarnaise That Belongs on Your Steak

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

The beauty of French mother sauces is just that: They have children. Béchamel, for instance, becomes silky, cheesy Mornay sauce with the addition of Gruyère, or soubise when cooked with onions.*

* Although I actually prefer a more modern version of soubise, with just cream and no béchamel.

Sadly, we don't take advantage of this fact nearly often enough. Most of us know that Hollandaise, the emulsified butter sauce with lemon and egg yolks, can be made into Béarnaise, which is flavored with wine vinegar, tarragon, shallots, and black pepper. But how many of us expand beyond that? I'd like to change that just slightly today by sharing a recipe for another Hollandaise derivative: Choron sauce.

Choron is nothing more than Hollandaise or Béarnaise with tomato added to it, but that addition does more than just turn it a pretty color. It adds a tomatoey sweetness that isn't too different from what ketchup does to mayo when you make Russian dressing. That's actually a really good way to think of Choron; it's like a somewhat fancier, warm alternative to Russian dressing.

You can eat it with almost anything: cooked vegetables, fish, eggs, chicken, beef. In the photos here, I'm serving it with a nicely seared steak. It all starts with a Béarnaise base, and I used Kenji's foolproof immersion-blender method to do it.

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You start in the classic fashion, by reducing white wine vinegar and white wine with shallots, black peppercorns, and tarragon until syrupy. Then you strain out the solids and combine that reduction with egg yolks in a tall, narrow vessel.

While an immersion blender whirs away, you slowly drizzle in melted butter to form a thick, mayo-like emulsion. Add some minced tarragon, and that takes care of the Béarnaise.

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To turn it into Choron, simply stir in some tomato purée or other thick tomato sauce. In my recipe, I'm using my easy cooked tomato coulis, which is just a fancy word for a basic, plain tomato sauce. I tested multiple ways of making coulis and settled on a method in which you cut the tomatoes into chunks, simmer them down for several minutes, then strain out the skins and seeds with a food mill or mesh strainer. If the coulis is a little loose, just cook it down until it thickens slightly, to more of a purée consistency.

The last step is just to taste the sauce: You may find that it needs another splash of white wine vinegar to balance the extra sweetness the tomato introduces, so adjust accordingly. Then keep it warm until you're ready to serve it.

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Choron will put a face on your steak—or whatever you're serving—that any mother (sauce) would love.

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