Lamb Steaks with Bearnaise Sauce


serves 4
4 lamb leg steaks, about 175 g (6 oz) each
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50 g (2 oz) butter
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
1 bunch of watercress
tomato waterlilies
tarragon leaves (optional)

for the bearnaise sauce

4 - 6 sprigs of fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped
4 - 6 sprigs of fresh chervil, coarsely chopped
15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped shallot
2 black peppercorns, crushed
30 ml (2 tbsp) tarragon vinegar
150 ml (5 fl oz) dry white wine
3 large egg yolks
225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter, diced into 10 mm (1/2 in) cubes
lemon juice
cayenne pepper


1. Make the bearnaise sauce: place half of the coarsely chopped tarragon and chervil in a saucepan with the chopped shallot, crushed black peppercorns, tarragon vinegar and white wine. Bring to the boil and cook over high heat until the liquid has reduced to 30 ml (2 tbsp) Remove the pan from the heat and set on one side.

2. Beat the egg yolks with 15 ml (1 tbls) cold water, then place in the top pan of a double boiler, or a bowl set over a saucepan, Strain in the reduced liquid. Using a wire whisk, stir briskly and constantly over hot but not simmering water until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. Whisk in the first piece of butter. When it has melted and been incorporated, add the second piece. Wait until each piece of butter has been completely incorporated before adding the next piece.

4. When the mixture begins to thicken, start adding a few pieces of butter at a time. Whisk thoroughly all the time, stirring from the bottom of the pan until the sauce is thick and smooth and all the butter pieces have been incorporated.

5. Remove the pan or bowl of sauce from the hot water. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve to give it a good gloss and stir in the remaining chopped tarragon and chervil.

6. Keep the sauce warm, covered, in the top pan of a double boiler over warm water.

7. Trim the fat around the outside of the lamb steaks if necessary and then beat the steaks individually between cling film with a rolling pin or meat bat to double their size. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

8. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying-pan and saute 2 of the lamb steaks at a time for 1 minute on each side for pink meat, 2-3 minutes for well-done. Transfer them to a heated platter and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 2 steaks.

9. To serve, overlap the lamb steaks slightly down the centre of a serving platter and garnish with bearnaise sauce and bouquets of watercress on each steak. Decorate the plate with tomato waterlilies and more watercress or tarragon leaves. Serve immediately, accompanied by the rest of the bearnaise sauce.

To make tomato waterlilies, cut around the middle of each tomato in a zig-zag pattern with a small, sharp knife.

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