Brown Butter

During these Dog Days of summer, I thought we’d do something simple. People seem to want to relax and not worry about anything. Directions to get somewhere, traffic, weather and dinner are all things no one wants to spend extra time contemplating during this season. With simple in mind, one of the easiest ways to add flavor to a meal is by using brown butter. But, when you tell people you are making brown butter, use the French words — beurre noisette. It sounds much harder to make.

Try Chef Smitty’s recipe for Trout Almandine.

Brown butter can be used in so many ways with so many things; anyone can make it quickly with no mess, no chopping and no special ingredients. Although, one can add some ingredients to it for different dishes. For example, mushrooms, lemon, parsley and almonds are popular additives.

I would use brown butter on practically anything that I’m going to season. Fish is one of the more common uses you see in restaurants, but it really does go great on almost anything. Vegetables, potatoes, steaks and lots of other meats — and even sandwiches — can be enhanced by brown butter. The next time you are in the mood for a grilled-cheese sandwich, use half the butter and save the other half for when the sandwich is done. Brown the unused butter and drizzle it over the top of the sandwich — and taste the difference.

For steaks, use a little less salt when seasoning, then drizzle a little brown butter over the steak just when you are about to serve it. The same method can be used for fish with the addition of a quick squeeze of lemon and a little chopped parsley added to the browned butter before it goes on top of the fish.

Add sliced almonds toasted in brown butter with green beans to make green beans almandine. Make sure to toss the almonds occasionally as they toast in the butter. Add a squeeze of lemon, sliced almonds and a little chopped parsley over trout for Trout Almandine.

Use fine-chopped hardboiled egg with brown butter on top of cauliflower for Cauliflower Polonaise. Bread crumbs toasted in brown butter are great on cauliflower or broccoli. Using brown butter itself names a dish meuniere. If you add chopped mushrooms to brown butter, it is called belle meuniere.

Brown butter is not just for the main course either; I use it to toast bread crumbs for my apple strudel.

Now that you have a couple ideas, just how difficult is it to make? It’s simple; so make brown butter and enjoy the flavor.

Brown Butter

Take a sauté pan that you just cooked your steak or fish in but dump out any fat or oil. (Remember to dump the oil into a container, then in the trash and not down the sink.)

Put in a pat of butter. Place it over a burner and turn the heat to high. The butter will melt; then as it starts to brown it will froth. Give the pan a swirl or two to even the browning and when you see the sides turning a golden brown as it froths, it is done.

If lemon is to be added, add it immediately to stop the butter from cooking and keep it from burning.

Add herbs after the butter has been browned so the flavors are released without being overcooked. Also, the herbs will not turn bitter and keep more of their color.

If you are using mushrooms, sauté them first, then add them to the butter once the butter has browned.