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What Is Choron Sauce?

Have you come across Choron sauce–perhaps in a recipe or on a menu? Or maybe you were lucky enough to have a taste! Either way, chances are you want to know more about this delicious French sauce.

So, what is Choron sauce? Choron sauce is Béarnaise sauce with a twist. That’s to say, it’s Béarnaise sauce (a French sauce made with eggs, vinegar, wine, clarified butter, shallots, chervil, and tarragon), without the chervil and tarragon but instead with added tomato puree. It naturally pairs best with fish, poultry, and meat. 

This is a sauce with history, dating back to the 1800s! 

Sadly, it’s not as popular as it once was. It’s one of those sauces you find in old recipe tomes hiding away like a treasure waiting to be unraveled. 

Nevertheless, let’s learn more about how to use Choron sauce, its flavor profile, various recipes, and similar sauces!

What Is Choron Sauce Made Of?

Choron sauce is made with Béarnaise sauce without the tarragon and chervil and with added tomato paste. That means, traditionally, it contains wine, vinegar, eggs, clarified butter, shallots, peppercorns, and tomato paste. 

Choron sauce (or sauce Choron, as the French say) is a twist on the good old Béarnaise sauce (which, in turn, is a twist on Hollandaise sauce, or a daughter sauce from Hollandaise, if you so like). 

Meaning you have to understand Béarnaise sauce to be able to understand Choron sauce. 

Béarnaise sauce is believed to have been invented by chef Collinet in 1836 for the opening of Le Pavillon Henri IV–a restaurant in Saint-Germaine-en-Laye. 

As Henri IV was from Béarn, this is how the sauce got its name. 

So what is Béarnaise sauce? It’s made with wine, vinegar, clarified butter, egg yolks, shallots, fresh chervil, fresh tarragon, and crushed peppercorns (the latter are strained out). 

Traditionally, Béarnaise sauce was made in a bain-marie (a bowl inside a pot of hot water), but these days using a food processor is usually preferred as there’s less chance of the sauce separating. 

Choron sauce or sauce Béarnaise tomatée was invented by Alexandre Étienne Choron–another French chef. 

Choron sauce is made the same way Béarnaise sauce is made, only instead of adding chervil and tarragon; you add tomato puree. 

Of course, today, there are a lot of variations on a theme when it comes to Choron sauce–some people like to keep the tarragon in there, for example. 

Others add chopped tomatoes to their Béarnaise sauce instead of tomato paste. 

First of all, let’s have a look at a classic Béarnaise sauce recipe, which tends to form the base for most Choron sauce recipes (technically, it should form the base, but interpretations are known to have happened). 

Recipe for Béarnaise Sauce 

  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • ¼ cup of white wine vinegar
  • 3 sprigs of chervil, leaves finely minced, stems reserved separately (optional; if not using, add an extra sprig of tarragon)
  • 3 sprigs of tarragon, leaves finely minced, stems reserved separately
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp of whole black peppercorns
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ sticks of (12 tbsp) of unsalted butter

For full instructions, look here

Now, let’s move on to some recipes for Choron sauce. As you will see, there are plenty to choose from!

Some include some “untraditional” ingredients, such as peppers, which will completely transform the flavor profile of the sauce. Have fun experimenting!  

Recipe Option One for Choron Sauce 

For the Béarnaise sauce:

  • ½ cup of white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp of black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 tbsp of chopped shallots 
  • 1 tbsp of chopped tarragon, divided
  • 1 cup of clarified butter, about 1 1/4 cups before clarifying
  • 4 large egg yolks 
  • 1 tbsp of chopped chervil

To Finish the Choron Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Lemon juice, to taste

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Two for Choron Sauce 

  • 3 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of white wine
  • 10 black peppercorns, crushed 
  • 2 tbsps. of finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tbsp of chopped tarragon
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • 3 Egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Three for Choron Sauce 

  • 400g of clarified butter
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tbsp of whole black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 grilled peppers
  • Fresh tarragon
  • Fresh parsley
  • ½ Lemon (the juice from the lemon)
  • 200ml Water
  • 1 tbsp of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Note: This recipe is not your standard Choron sauce, as it calls for peppers. However, I thought it fun to include it as it’s a tasty version of a theme. 

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Four for Choron Sauce 

  • 3 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of white wine
  • 10 peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tbsp of chopped tarragon
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • 3 Egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Five for Choron Sauce 

  • 6 tbsp of water, divided
  • 2 tbsp of white vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste
  • 6 Egg yolks
  • 3 cups of clarified butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp of tomato paste
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, to taste

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Six for Choron Sauce 

  • ⅓ cup of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of minced shallots
  • ½ tsp of black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp of tarragon leaves, plus 1 tablespoon chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp of warm water
  • 1 cup of clarified butter
  • ½ tsp. of salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. of ground white pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • A pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup of tomato concasse
  • 6 cups of vegetable oil, for frying
  • ⅓ cup of tomato puree

Note: The full instructions include a recipe for smoked trout with Choron sauce–definitively something to consider if you’re wondering what to pair your Choron sauce with!

For full instructions, look here

What Does Choron Sauce Taste Like?

Choron sauce is a thick and creamy sauce, not unlike mayonnaise in texture. It’s served warm, though. It is also flavored with shallots and tomato, which gives it a distinct flavor profile.  

If you’ve tasted Béarnaise sauce, imagine something similar but flavored with tomato. 

As Béarnaise sauce is a “daughter sauce” to Hollandaise sauce, it’s also fairly similar in taste to that–though not as close as the Béarnaise sauce. 

What Do You Eat Choron Sauce With?

Choron sauce is the perfect pairing for fish, meat, and poultry. 

If you’re looking for a creamy sauce that has a light tomato flavor to go with your meat, fish, or poultry, then Choron sauce is a great option.

Unlike some sauces, Choron sauce is not overpowering, meaning it’s a pretty versatile sauce. 

Apart from being a great accompaniment to meat, fish, and poultry, it works well when poured over potatoes and vegetables, too. 

What Is Similar To Choron Sauce? 

Béarnaise sauce is extremely similar in taste to Choron sauce, as the base of Choron sauce is Béarnaise sauce, sans the tarragon and chervil. Choron sauce comes with an added hint of tomato. 

It’s undeniable that Choron sauce tastes a lot like Béarnaise sauce, as it’s made from the same base ingredients and prepared in the same manner. 

However, Choron sauce is flavored with tomato paste (or chopped tomatoes), while Béarnaise sauce is flavored with tarragon and chervil. 

As Hollandaise sauce is the “mother sauce” of Béarnaise sauce, there are also similarities in taste between Choron sauce and Hollandaise sauce. 

Some have likened Choron sauce to a warm version of Russian dressing. 

Russian dressing is made by mixing mayonnaise with ketchup and served cold. 

As ketchup is usually sweet, the flavor profile is somewhat different, though the consistency and color of the two sauces are similar.  

Finally

Many people talk about Choron sauce as a “forgotten” sauce.

As it was invented in the 1800s, it’s not surprising it may not be as common today as it was some odd 100 years ago. 

Especially with the advent of nouvelle cuisine in the 1960s, as the focus moved away from butter in sauces. 

The idea was to use fresh ingredients to make dishes more flavorful and less heavy. In fact, the motto was: “Hold the butter.”

Today, French cuisine tends to mix good old cuisine classique with nouvelle cuisine, finding a balance between the light and the heavy (fatty). 

What most people don’t know is that Béarnaise sauce and many other “classic” sauces have led to the development of “deviant” sauces, such as Choron sauce.

If you enjoy cooking, it’s a good idea to look up such classic sauces on Wikipedia and find the names of the sauces they inspired or work as a base for. 

Suppose you’ve mastered the “mother sauce,” you can usually easily make the sauces that stem from it. It’s an easy and fun way of expanding your sauce repertoire. 

As Choron sauce works really well with a good old steak or a nice BBQ, as well as with many fish dishes, it’s well worth learning how to make it. 

And having a food processor will go a long way in cutting the cooking time as you won’t need the bain-marie, nor need to fear that the sauce will separate. 

Want to learn more about French sauces? Then my other guides may be of interest: