Brown butter: let me persuade you

I’d like to talk about brown butter, if you don’t mind

Did you know you can just brown butter when you’re cooking? For whatever reason you want? No one can stop you. You can do it and add it to cookies or to pan sauces or whatever you like. There are no rules. There are no laws. No gods. No kings. Only butter.

Brown butter in cooking seemingly finds its origins in France. This makes sense seeing as they’re really good with butter over there. 

They call it buerre noisette which loosely translates to brown butter, but more accurately to hazelnut butter. It would also be called buerre noir, or black butter, if cooked for longer. 

Buerre noisette is prepared by introducing unsalted butter to a low heat, which allows the butterfat and milk solids to separate. 

The milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan or pot, and deepen in colour as they cook. 

What you get then is something fragrant and rich. On top of that, you get something else that enriches some of my favourite recipes, like my cookies: the freckles. The little stars of extra flavour through whatever I’m making.

Thanks to the richer, nuttier, and more complex flavour brown butter has graced my cookies with, I find myself to be a loyalist. 

How do you brown butter?

Back in 2002, Melissa Clark wrote for the NYT about brown butter. She says that it fires up butter to a new level and remarks that browning butter isn’t something often done in home cooking. 

Through consuming a great deal of cooking media, I’ve found that some little bits of quirky cooking can be built up to be perhaps more intimidating than it really is. Melissa warns in her NYT piece that “butter can burn in seconds”. 

True as this may be, I seriously consider browning butter to be a gentle process. It yields a gentle flavour. Something warming and comforting and well worth the time spent over the hob watching butter brown. 

Interested in browning your own butter at home?

Obviously, I recommend this for chocolate chip cookies for an elevated and comforting flavour. 

If you’re looking to introduce brown butter to your savouries, then I recommend an orzo with a honey, rosemary, and brown butter sauce, which would pair beautifully with some white wine and some herby chicken. 

For a date night at home, my husband made us pork chops that he had cooked in the sous vide to achieve a perfect internal temperature. He made the last minute decision to add a brown butter pan sauce which was nothing short of chef’s kiss. 

One of my newer favourite applications is lemon loaf. Brightness and richness come together. 

Browning butter may not be something done much at home, but I believe it just needs some patience and practice, and it serves as a beautiful tool to use in both cooking and baking. I’ve hardly cracked the surface of foods I can elevate by browning butter, but I’m so looking forward to continue to experimenting.

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