Browning is a process that caramelizes milk solids in butter. It creates an irresistible nutty taste and adds depth of flavor. This recipe may seem a little daunting at first because you really need to pay attention but once you’ve made it once or twice you will have completely mastered it and will never have to read this recipe again. You will own the skill. It will become part of your repertoire, a card in your pocket, a secret ingredient that will make you a better cook. If you find yourself one day, after a long week or trip, with “nothing to eat” you will know exactly what to do with the butter in your refrigerator and the lonely carrots in your veggie drawer or you’ll make yourself a fantastic pasta from that forgotten box of spaghetti shoved in the back of your pantry, half a lemon, and a handful of pistachios all because you know how to brown butter.
I like to make brown butter in big batches with at least one pound of butter since it keeps for a long time in the refrigerator but you can make smaller amounts. If this is your first time I would start with no less than two sticks since two sticks are easier to brown than one. Smaller amounts cook faster and are easier to burn.
2 sticks unsalted butter (or more)
Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat.
You don't want to go any higher than medium low heat or speed the process in any way. You want to give it the time to caramelize. The butter will go through a few stages on its way to becoming its yummiest nuttiest self.
1. Once melted it will have a layer of cream on top.
2. Then it will look broken or almost like it’s curdled a bit. At this point you should start stirring it and scraping the bottom of the pot and sides so the milk solids don’t stick and burn faster. What you are trying to do is caramelize the milk solids in the butter. They will then impart the butter with one of the best flavors on earth.
3. The next stage is when you really have to tend to it. The butter will get foamy. At this point you want to gently stir and scrape constantly. It can rise up so be extra careful. Keep stirring and scraping until the foam looks like it has gotten a little foamier and slightly golden.
4.At this point remove the pot from heat and let it cool. The butter will cook a little more so it’s important to stop cooking it when you see it getting a little color.
Once it’s at room temp you can store it in or out of the fridge. I personally leave it out if I’m using it often but store it in the fridge if I make a large batch.