Cooking Technique: Brown Butter

Brown Butter

After eating out multiple times a week at The Spaghetti Factory when we first moved here (and had no stuff, not even a refrigerator, for a couple weeks), my husband begged me to try to recreate one of their specialties, spaghetti with brown butter and Myzithra cheese. I love trying to recreate our favorite restaurant food, but the brown butter part made me hesitate. Pasta I can do. The cheese was easily found at our local Safeway. But I was nervous about the brown butter, and RARELY do foods make me nervous. Food is my friend. :-) I did get over my fear of the brown butter in order to make the pasta dish for Zak – you can find the recipe for that here. It’s massively delicious…

Brown butter turned out to be so easy to make, it is now my new favorite ingredient. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover this seemingly “gourmet” cooking technique! I am finding so many uses for this stuff – pasta, veggies, cookies – the list goes on. You don’t have to use very much, as a little goes a long way when it comes to flavor – particularly helpful if you are watching your figure or heart health. Everything in moderation, right? Plus, it keeps really well in the fridge so you can make it ahead and then have it on hand when you want to cook/bake with it. It re-solidifies just like regular butter, so you can easily measure out tablespoons for cooking/baking.

There really isn’t a recipe for this – it is that easy. :-) See how it’s done below:

Butter

Start with unsalted butter, NOT margarine. I find that 1 cup (2 sticks) is the perfect amount to make at at time. I can easily keep an eye on the coloring and make sure it doesn’t burn. If you want to make a bunch to keep on hand in the fridge, I recommend doing it a cup at a time.

 

Butter in Pan

Cut up the butter and melt in a sturdy pan over medium heat. By the way. It’s easier to see the browning if you use a stainless steel or other light-colored pan. I remembered this about half-way through the process and switched out the pans – oops! Note: An enameled cast iron pot would be ok, but be careful of overheating as those pots conduct and retain heat VERY well, so overcooking (even after pulling it off the heat) is possible.

 

Starting to Foam

Whisk it a bit to make sure all the butter pieces melt. It will start to foam.

 

More Foam

It will foam a little more, and then you’ll begin to see clear bubbles here and there.

 

Bubbles

Gradually, the foam will subside and the clear bubbles will take over.

 

Color

Here’s where the magic starts to happen. The bubbles get smaller, the butter’s color begins to darken just a bit, and you’ll see the milk solids start to settle at the bottom. Now is when you really want to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t begin to burn.

 

More ColorThe milk solids will begin to caramelize and darken, and the foam may return. You may need to swirl the pan a bit to keep an eye on the color. This is almost done – literally about 15-20 more seconds is all it needs. Be prepared to completely remove it from the heat right quickly as it finishes. If you have an electric stove like I do, make sure you have room on your stove to move it over to a cool burner, or a trivet ready on the counter.

 

Final Color

Done! Here’s a close-up of the golden brown coloring of the butter and milk solids.

 

Drain Prep

Get ready to strain the solids out by placing cheese-cloth (or a paper towel in my case… MacSuzie to the rescue!) over a bowl or glass measuring cup.

 

Strain

Carefully pour the browned butter over the cloth or paper towel. Go slowly. Remember, it’s hot, and you don’t want to spill a drop of this liquid gold… Really, you don’t.

 

Dregs

Here’s what you’ve strained out. If you want a stronger flavor, and don’t mind the browned bits, you can certainly skip the straining.

 

Brown Butter

Tah dah!!!! Brown butter. Ready to use in liquid form, or refrigerate to measure out in tablespoons. Stay tuned for recipes using this great ingredient! To start, try Spaghetti with Broccoli & Myzithra Cheese. It will change your life, hahaha…

Let me know what you think!

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