I feel like it’s time to share with you the best thing since sliced bread: browned butter! There was a time when I was quite afraid to make it, convinced that making it required some sort of spell cast precisely at the right time on the right sort of day. Some culinary things still seem like that to me for now, but browned butter is no longer one of them. Any amount of butter, no matter how small or large, can be browned. People say that browned butter smells nutty, but I think it smells like caramel.
The cooking of butter’s milk solids is what actually makes butter turn brown over prolonged heat. Thus, it is key to slice the butter into even pieces, ensuring even melting, which in turn ensures that the milk solids will all cook evenly. It is also very, very important to use only unsalted butter for browning. Salted butter can be browned, but it is much easier to burn and is overall a much more difficult process.
Place butter into a light-coloured, heavy-bottomed frying pan or saucepan and melt over medium heat, whisking occasionally. (It is easier to see the solids turn brown if the pan is not dark in colour.) If browning a large amount of butter at one time, it is best to use a wide pan so that the froth which ensues from the browning process does not obscure the colour change.
Once the butter has melted, continue to cook over medium heat. Increase frequency of whisking.
The butter will froth, lightly at first, then more violently, meaning that brown specks – the brownness in browned butter – are not far off! Keep on whisking.
When brown specks appear in the butter and it gives forth a caramelesque or nutty aroma, the butter is done. Take it immediately off the heat and place on a cool surface, or else transfer the butter to a separate bowl. This will help to stop the butter from continuing to cook. The butter can go from browned to blackened within literally 10 – 15 seconds, so take it off the heat once it is browned!
Brown specks really do form in browned butter! Here’s a close-up of my saucepan after I transferred the browned butter to another container:
Use at once, or store in the refrigerator.
Coming up is a post in which I put this browned butter to work in something I promise you won’t want to miss!
If you enjoyed reading this, click here to subscribe to my blog. That way, you’ll never miss a post!