A list of things you can toast:
I bet you didn’t know you could toast butter. Yeah, I said it. And no I haven’t been drinking.
Well okay maybe a little.
Have you ever seen “brown butter” on a menu? It’s usually associated with winter dishes like butternut squash ravioli–where the accompanying sauce is brown butter and sage (a woody, earthy herb with a musty flavor of mint and lemon). It’s a simple sauce with basically two ingredients but it’s packed with warmth and unbelievable lusciousness.
Brown butter is just that–butter that has been browned in a pan. Toasting anything–nuts, bread, rice–releases oils and deepens flavor. Browning butter is three easy steps that all follow the guidelines of one important rule: Do not, I repeat, do NOT burn the butter.
Of course if you do accidentally burn your butter, you can clean out the pan and start over. No one is watching. Well, unless you have a cat. Then she’s always creepily over your shoulder. My number one piece of advice is don’t take your eyes off of the butter. This is a fast process and can be done easily in just a few minutes. When you taste the results, you’ll feel as if what you made took at least two hours.
And your knees will get weak and you’ll crumple into a congratulatory ball of joy on the kitchen floor.
Maybe that’s just me.
STEP ONE: Melt unsalted butter in a pan over medium heat.
STEP TWO: When butter begins to foam and get bubbly, give it a few whisks.
STEP THREE: Brown bits will begin to form on the bottom of the pan. You will think: HOLY SHIT. I burnt it already. But you will be wrong. The butter is just beginning to toast. Using a spoon, carefully remove some of the butter’s foam. Once it looks and smells nutty brown (see photo below), remove the butter from the heat and whisk continuously for another 30 seconds. It should be a rich brown color.
Pour mixture through a sieve or a fine mesh strainer and season with salt to taste.
It should taste almost reminiscent of a nutty caramel and have just enough salt to make you smile and nod your head.
Ways to use brown butter:
Toss cooked pasta with brown butter, fresh chopped sage, and goat cheese
Roast cauliflower and drizzle with brown butter and parmesan
Mix brown butter with balsamic vinegar, pour over brussel sprouts and pancetta, and bake until sprouts are crispy and tender
Whisk into your mashed potatoes or a creamy parsnip puree (see below)
Chiffonade raw kale into ribbons and wilt in a saute pan with brown butter, a squeeze of lemon, lemon zest, and salt (see below)