Have you ever browned butter?
It's an easy way to take a recipe that relies on butter up a notch in flavor. Just by cooking the butter a little past the melting point results in the milk solids in the butter browning, and creating a wonderfully nutty aroma.
It's fun to do with butter-based sauces (check out these scallops in a brown butter caper sauce), baked goods that call for melted butter (like these brown butter chocolate chunk cookies), or with vegetables such as winter squash that you sauté in butter.
Just be sure to keep your eye on it while cooking; it's pretty easy to go from browned to burnt!
How to Make Brown Butter
- Unsalted butter
Melt the butter:
Heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add the butter (if you slice it, it will melt more evenly) whisking frequently. Continue to cook the butter.
Watch for brown specs and nutty aroma:
Once melted the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma.
Remove from heat:
Pour into a bowl to stop the butter from cooking further and perhaps burning.
It's pretty easy to overcook browned butter and go from brown to burnt. If the butter starts to blacken, I suggest dumping it and starting over (something I've had to do on occasion), unless you want beurre noir which has a different taste than nutty brown butter.
If you want to make sage brown butter sauce, add some fresh sage leaves to the butter once it has melted. Allow the butter to brown and remove from heat.
Use browned butter immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for future use.