My Best Sauces: Pan-Seared Sirloin Shell Steak with Food Processor Béarnaise Sauce

Saturday December 5, 2015

Béarnaise sauce, a sharp buttery sauce with red wine vinegar, shallots, egg yolks, and tarragon, is truly a special occasion sauce.

bone-in shell steak

But one to look forward to. It is THE sauce for grilled and sautéed meat or fish, much less a foundation sauce in French cookery. This was a sauce invented in royal kitchens and King Henry IV is even nicknamed the Great Béarnaise, for he must have loved it. Who wouldn’t with its uber-rich texture and flavor?

With the aid of the trusty food processor, this sauce, like its cousin the Hollandaise, is moments away.  The food processor is the medium to making fabulous French sauces rather than the old “by hand” method. My life in the kitchen changed when I learned how to make the classic sauces in the food processor. There was instant success and success every time. You can become a gourmet cook having this sauce in your repertoire. Use a fabulous red wine vinegar, like a Merlot vinegar; you will notice the difference.

Make the sauce first, for the sautéing goes fast. Serve on filet mignon or, as here, the delightful boneless sirloin shell steak. It is very tender, despite coming from the top of the hip (top butt), and with a quick flash in the pan, is ready for a weeknight dinner. Top sirloin steaks can run large, about 1-pound per steak; if so plan on one steak for two people, and then slice it against the grain on the bias like flank steak. Often the steaks are pre-cut into 8- to 10-ounce individual square steaks with no fat except some light marbling. If you like, substitute a New York (boneless top sirloin) or a Porterhouse (with bone).

Serve with sautéed mixed peppers and zucchini, and steamed whole new potatoes.

Serves 4


  • Food Processor Béarnaise Sauce
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup excellent red wine vinegar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and hot
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless sirloin shell steaks, each about 8- to 10-ounces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


    Make the sauce. In a saucepan, combine the shallots and vinegar. Bring to a boil and let boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. You can strain the vinegar into the food processor, or just dump it in with the shallots. Cool 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, pulsing to combine. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the hot butter; the sauce will naturally thicken. Stir in the tarragon, lemon juice, and season to taste. Set aside. Makes 3/4 cup.

    Pat the steak dry with paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet or sauté pan (can be non-stick) over medium-high heat, add the oil. Add the steaks to the hot pan and cook 3 minutes each side for medium-rare, 4 minutes for medium, and 5 minutes for well-done. Remove from the pan to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain in 1/4-inch slices. The temperature will be 130º on an instant-read thermometer for medium.

    Place the slices of steak on dinner plates and top each portion with about 3 tablespoons of the Béarnaise. Serve immediately.

    Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2008, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

    Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015

    Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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