How-to brown butter and a recipe for crispy sage brown butter cream sauce

While on a trip to New York City a couple years ago, I ended up taking refuge in a lovely Italian restaurant during an unexpected downpour. Once I realized the rain was going to be more than a few minutes long, I asked for a table and was delighted by my chance meeting with the restaurant.

My meal included a pasta dish that was topped with a crispy sage and brown butter cream sauce. At the time, I thought the “brown butter” aspect of the sauce was some kind of special butter, because the taste was magical. It wasn’t until I got home and did a Google search for “brown butter” that I learned it wasn’t a special kind of butter at all. It was simply butter that had been browned.

I was intrigued.

Browning butter gives it a nutty flavor, it erases the tang some butters have, and makes it delicious. All you need to do is melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and wait for it to turn a light brown. That’s it. Nothing else. You have successfully browned butter.

If you want to crisp up some fresh sage in the brown butter, remove the butter from the burner when it is brown and throw in some sage. The sage will fry in the butter and turn crispy. Again, that is all you have to do. It is really, really, really simple.

To make it into a cream sauce, whisk in some cream. If you want to get fancy, you can add a splash of lemon juice or dry white wine, but it’s not necessary. The sauce isn’t healthful, but it is really yummy and won’t give you a heart attack if you have it a few times a year.

One comment posted

  1. Posted by Shannon - 08/07/2011

    Brown butter is what my mother ALWAYS served over steamed asparagus. Two of my most favourite things. I learned about the sage leaves in the butter four or five years ago too, and absolutely love this on top of a simple pasta dish, or asparagus. I’ve never thought of adding cream so that is up next time I make this. Thanks!

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