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Oct 23, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Better Butter
By Marianne Moore | Photos by Carmen Troesser
Posted On: 03/01/2017   


Deeper, richer and more intense than melted or clarified, brown butter is also known as beurre noisette (“hazelnut butter”) because it tastes nutty and toasty, and has a similar color. Made by cooking unsalted butter long enough to brown the milk solids and cook out any water, do it right and your kitchen will smell like delicious, toasted hazelnuts. Do it wrong, and it will smell like burnt oil and defeat.

Traditionally served with fish, brown butter makes a delicious topping for vegetables and gives desserts a serious flavor boost, too, whether it’s baked into cookies and cakes or whipped into frostings. The best thing about brown butter is its versatility. You can use it in liquid state, or cool it to solid. Sneak this stuff in anywhere you’d use regular butter for an extra layer of flavor.

Brown butter reduces in volume as the water content cooks off: 1 cup butter yields ¾ cup brown butter.


Basic Brown Butter

¾ cup

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, sliced

• In a heavy, light-colored saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool.
Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

1 dozen

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 Tbsp. aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. very cold Basic Brown Butter, cut into chunks (recipe at left)
1 cup buttermilk

• Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
• Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl or the bowl of a food processor.
• Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender, or pulse in the food processor, until it resembles coarse meal.
• Add the buttermilk and mix with a spoon until just combined. If it appears dry, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.
• Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Gently pat the dough out until ½-inch thick – do not use a rolling pin. Knead the dough 5 times, then gently press into to a 1-inch-thick disc.
• Cut into 2-inch rounds. Knead the scraps together to cut a few more, but they will not be as good as the first batch. Arrange the biscuits so they are touching on a sheet pan.
• Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown on top and bottom. Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack.


Cauliflower with Mustard Brown Butter

6 to 8 servings

1 head cauliflower
²∕³ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ cup drained large capers, divided
¾ cup coarse breadcrumbs, preferably fresh
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
10 Tbsp. butter
½ cup whole-grain mustard
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler.
• Trim the cauliflower, cut into small florets and mince the stems.
• On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper to taste. Broil until charred and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
• In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat ¹∕³ cup oil. Add ¼ cup capers and fry until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the breadcrumbs and pepper flakes to the skillet and saute until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
• Reduce the heat to medium, wipe the skillet clean and add the butter. Cook, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are deep golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes, stir in the mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl.
• Increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining ¹∕³ cup oil to the skillet. Add the cauliflower stems, garlic and salt and pepper to taste, and saute until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the charred florets and mustard butter and toss to coat. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining ¼ cup capers and parsley.


Corn and Asparagus Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

4 servings

3 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in pieces
9 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. pappardelle
½ large red onion, thinly sliced
1 green jalapeno, seeded and minced
Kosher and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 oz. grated Grana Padano
1 cup Brown Butter Breadcrumbs (recipe follows)
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

• In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, saute the corn and asparagus with 3 tablespoons oil until charred and soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
• Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, toss with 3 tablespoons oil and set aside.
• Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, red onion and jalapeno. Saute 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook 1 more minute. Add the reserved asparagus and corn. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, increase the heat to medium-high and saute 3 to 4 minutes, until well mixed and browned.
• Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked pasta to the skillet and mix carefully. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley. Serve immediately.


Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

1 cup

5 Tbsp. butter
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

• In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to let cool.
• Add the breadcrumbs, stir to combine and return to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stirring frequently to prevent burning, cook until the crumbs crisp and darken slightly. Remove from heat and let cool.


Brown Butter Macaroni and Cheese

6 to 8 servings

12 oz. macaroni
9 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 Tbsp. flour
2/3 cup milk
¾ cup grated white cheddar
¼ cup shredded Parmesan
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

• Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
• Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are light brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes, immediately whisk in the flour until smooth, then add the milk and whisk until slightly thickened. Add the cheddar and Parmesan and continue to whisk over medium heat until smooth.
• Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni, then transfer to a large baking dish. 
• Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler.
• In a small bowl, microwave the remaining 3 tablespoons butter until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in the breadcrumbs, then sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. 
• Broil the macaroni and cheese until the top is slightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.


Roasted Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) room-temperature unsalted butter, divided
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. bourbon (optional)
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2¼ cups flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
• In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt ½ cup butter, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 2½ to 3 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to stop cooking. Allow to cool.
• Beat the remaining ½ cup butter and the brown sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and bourbon. Add the cooled brown butter and sugar, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
• Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans. Cover and refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes.
• Drop the dough in 2-tablespoon scoops onto the baking sheets. Leave space between each, as the cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
• Bake the cookies 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest on the baking sheet at least 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm or finish cooling on a wire rack.


Ultimate Rice Crispy Treats

8 to 10 servings

1½ cups sugar
1 cup cold water, divided
½ cup light corn syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
9 to 10 cups crispy rice cereal

Special equipment: candy thermometer

• Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
• In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the sugar, ½ cup cold water, corn syrup and salt. Once the sugar is dissolved, let sit undisturbed until the mixture reaches soft ball stage, 235 to 240 degrees, then remove from heat.
• Meanwhile, in a large, deep, heatproof bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining ½ cup cold water. Let stand until softened, about 1 minute, then beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
• Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin, avoiding the beaters and sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until mixture increases in volume and turns into thick, white marshmallow, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 1 minute.
• In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 3 to 4 minutes, add the marshmallow and mix together. Remove from heat and stir in the crispy rice cereal 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly to ensure even coating. Press evenly into the prepared dish and allow to cool.


Spinach Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette

6 servings

1 5-oz. package baby spinach, rinsed and drained
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
¹∕³ cup butter
¾ cup pecan halves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese

• In a medium serving bowl, combine the spinach and onion. Set aside.
• In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the pecans and cook, stirring occasionally until the butter is light brown and the pecans are toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
• Whisk in the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar. Immediately drizzle over the spinach and toss until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately.


Corn and Asparagus Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

4 servings

3 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in pieces
9 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. pappardelle
½ large red onion, thinly sliced
1 green jalapeno, seeded and minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup Brown Butter Breadcrumbs (recipe follows)
2 oz. grated Grana Padano
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

• In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, saute the corn and asparagus with 3 tablespoons oil until charred and soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
• Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, toss with 3 tablespoons oil and set aside.
• Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, red onion and jalapeno. Saute 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook 1 more minute. Add the reserved asparagus and corn. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, increase the heat to medium-high and saute 3 to 4 minutes, until well mixed and browned.
• Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked pasta to the skillet and mix carefully. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.


Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

1 cup

5 Tbsp. butter
1 cup breadcrumbs, preferably fresh

• In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to let cool.
• Add the breadcrumbs, stir to combine and return to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stirring frequently to prevent burning, cook until the crumbs crisp and darken slightly. Remove from heat and let cool.


Brown Butter Macaroni and Cheese

6 to 8 servings

12 oz. macaroni
9 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 Tbsp. flour
²∕³ cup milk
¾ cup grated white cheddar
¼ cup shredded Parmesan
½ cup breadcrumbs, preferably fresh

• Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
• Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are light brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes, immediately whisk in the flour until smooth, then add the milk and whisk until slightly thickened. Add the cheddar and Parmesan and continue to whisk over medium heat until smooth.
• Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni, then transfer to a large baking dish. 
• Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler.
• In a small bowl, microwave the remaining 3 tablespoons butter until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in the breadcrumbs, then sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. 
• Broil the macaroni and cheese until the top is slightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.


Ultimate Rice Crispy Treats

8 to 10 servings

1½ cups sugar
1 cup cold water, divided
½ cup light corn syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. butter
9 to 10 cups crispy rice cereal

Special equipment: candy thermometer

• Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
• In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the sugar, ½ cup cold water, corn syrup and salt. Once the sugar is dissolved, let sit undisturbed until the mixture reaches soft ball stage, 235 to 240 degrees, then remove from heat.
• Meanwhile, in a large, deep, heatproof bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining ½ cup cold water. Let stand until softened, about 1 minute, then beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
• Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin, avoiding the beaters and sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until mixture increases in volume and turns into thick, white marshmallow, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 1 minute.
• In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 3 to 4 minutes, add the marshmallow and mix together. Remove from heat and stir in the crispy rice cereal 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly to ensure even coating. Press evenly into the prepared dish and allow to cool.


Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) room-temperature butter, divided
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. bourbon (optional)
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2¼ cups flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
• In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt ½ cup butter, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 2½ to 3 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to stop cooking. Allow to cool.
• Beat the remaining ½ cup butter and the brown sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and bourbon. Add the cooled brown butter and sugar, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
• Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans. Cover and refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes.
• Drop the dough in 2-tablespoon scoops onto the baking sheets. Leave space between each, as the cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
• Bake the cookies 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest on the baking sheet at least 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm or finish cooling on a wire rack.



g=Go brown or go home
Warning: Once you’ve made brown butter, you may go on a binge. Here are helpful ways to bring your favorite recipes up a notch and turn store-bought items into something special with brown butter.


Granola
Butter helps toast the nuts and oats in granola, and brown butter takes that nutty flavor over the edge.

Chickpeas
Toss garbanzo beans with brown butter and a bit of seasoning and toast until crispy.

Grilled Cheese
The best grilled cheese sandwiches are the ones where the butter caramelizes and crisps the bread. Kind of like – you guessed it – brown butter. Just cook that grilled cheese in brown butter for guaranteed awesome flavor.

Soups
Stir a drizzle of brown butter into your favorite soup. Think potato leek, clam chowder or even a creamy tomato.

Pasta
Finish a store-bought tortellini or ravioli with brown butter. Toss in some herbs and lemon juice while pan-frying to pump up the flavor even more.

Veggies
Give instant flavor to vegetables by tossing them in brown butter instead of olive oil before roasting.

Potatoes
Infuse brown butter with a bit of garlic and stir into mashed potatoes.


Basic Brown Butter
Makes ¾ cup

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, sliced

PREPARATION

• In a heavy, light-colored saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesn’t burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

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