Sauce Choron

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Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

Alexandre Etienne Choron (1772–1834), a French musicologist and pedagogue born at Caen, may not have anything to do with this tomato-tinged variation of béarnaise sauce. But if you have a better candidate for its eponym, I would like to hear about him (or her). Meanwhile, I prefer to imagine that Choron circulated in the gastronomically zesty Paris of his mature years, the heyday of Carême, the superchef; Talleyrand, host of hosts; and Brillat-Savarin, the philosopher of the table. Why shouldn’t an eminent musical luminary have met these other proto-foodies, at the opera or in restaurants? And why shouldn’t he have proposed it to some of his food cronies?

Béarnaise itself was a nineteenth-century sauce, first made at Saint-Germain-en-Laye outside Paris, in the kitchen of the Pavilion Henri IV, named after the greatest son of the Béarn country in the lower Pyrenees.

More recently, Paul Bocuse, standard-bearer for the nouvelle cuisine, served sauce Choron, traditionally an accompaniment for grilled meats, with his signature dish, a whole sea bass encased in puff pastry decorated to look like a fish.


  • 4 teaspoons tomato sauce
  • 4 teaspoons heavy cream
  • cup tarragon vinegar
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chervil
  • ½ teaspoon crushed white peppercorns
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ pound unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt
  • Cayenne


  1. Whisk the tomato paste into the heavy cream. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy, nonaluminum skillet, stir together the vinegar, the white wine, the chopped shallots, the chopped tarragon, the chopped chervil, and the crushed white peppercorns. Bring to a boil and reduce by two-thirds, to a bit more than ¼ cup. Let cool.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks into the cooled herb reduction and cook slowly over low heat, whisking constantly. When the mixture acquires a creamy consistency, because the egg yolks have thickened, remove it from the heat and gradually whisk in the butter. Then whisk in the reserved tomato-cream mixture.
  4. Strain through a chinois. Taste the sauce. Add salt if necessary and a small amount of cayenne. Serve while still warm.

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