How to Brown Butter
Add a complex and nutty flavor to your food with this classic French technique.
Brown butter, also known as beurre noisette, is made by cooking butter long enough to turn the milk solids and salt particles brown while cooking out any water present. It has a more complex flavor than melted or clarified butter. Brown butter is traditionally served with fish, but makes a delicious topping for vegetables such as brussels sprout and broccoli. It adds a deep, nutty flavor to sweet items like butterscotch pudding or cream cheese frosting.
1. Place the butter in a pot or pan. We have chosen to use a ½ cup of butter.
2. The temperature you use can vary. High heat will brown the butter quickly, and maintain a regular consistency. However, if you do not monitor the butter properly, the milk solids and salt particles will sink to the bottom of the pan and burn. Moderate heat allows you to keep a careful eye on the process.
3. While the butter heats, stir continuously. In this picture, the color is just beginning to change.
4. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter becomes a light tan color. Remove the pan from the heat. The butter will continue cooking even after you remove it from the burner. Notice the dramatic change in color: it should be nut-brown and have a toasty aroma. Overcooked butter will have a very bitter taste.
5. Even bitter, over-browned butter is used in some traditional French dishes--it is called black butter, or beurre noir. Substitute brown butter for melted butter, or try it in these recipes.