Beurre noisette, pronounced burr-nwah-ZET, is a French term for "brown butter" or literally "hazelnut butter." It is literally a one-ingredient condiment, unsalted butter, cooked in a pan until it turns a golden brown. The resulting butter has a nutty flavor and is added to vegetables, pasta, fish, omelets or chicken. Sea bass with mushroom beurre noisette is a popular meal.
How to Make Brown Butter
As you may know, butter has a low smoke point so cooking it gently enough to "brown" it for this purpose takes some patience and precision. This is one cooking technique that calls for constant attention. No leaving the pan unattended or taking your eyes off of the browning butter. Follow these tips for making your own brown butter.
First, use a pan that has a bottom that is not dark - a stainless steel pan works wonders. Heat the pan over medium heat. Remember, too much heat will burn the butter, so start the heat slowly. Cut butter into tablespoon-sized pats and separate them. Start adding the butter to the heated pan one pat at a time assembling the butter side by side. Using a whisk as the butter melts, swirl the butter so that it cooks evenly. Swirl the pan occasionally to ensure no butter burns. The butter will begin to foam after 30 seconds or so. Keep stirring constantly as the butter begins to melt and the proteins brown. Keep an eye on the color of the butter. You're looking for a golden brown hue. Once you see that, pour the butter out of the pan into a large latte mug or some other heatproof container.
You can use brown butter to flavor roasted vegetables, to top baked pastries or as a sauce for pasta dishes like gnocchi. If you don't use it all immediately, store it in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
3 Common Types of Brown Butter
Typically there is golden brown, brown-brown and almost blackened brown butter. Their differences have to do with taste and use. The darker the brown butter, the better they are as a contrast to sweet dishes like an apple galette. The brown-brown butter complements fish and pasta dishes well. The lightest of the brown butter is best on dishes like roasted squash or carrots, used in salad dressings or even used in buttercream icing.
Great Brown Butter Recipes
As gravies go, brown butter is best with added herbs and spices. Sage, lavender, tarragon and lemon thyme are all great additions to a basic brown butter recipe. Here are 5 recipes that use brown butter in entrees: