It’s Like Brown Butter, Baby

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The wonderful thing about a balanced approach to feeding your family is that you and your kids can have a little bit of everything if you make a point of mixing it up. Whole wheat pasta one night balances rich egg noodles another. A ton of perfectly steamed fresh broccoli dressed with a nice vinaigrette and grated parmesan one dinner balances a toasty grilled gruyere and roasted tomato sandwich one rainy day. Avoid processed treats, such as packaged butter cookies, and you can have the occasional dinner graced by a sauce so magical and simple that it makes everything taste like, well, butter.

And that superlative sauce is brown butter. It’s the default sauce for gnocchi when cooked with sage until crisp. It’s also quite nice for saucing a simple free range chicken breast roasted in a pan on the stove top or drizzling over steamed asparagus with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of sea salt. A little goes a long way. Everything in moderation is a simple lesson to convey to your kids. And the well balanced plated is the perfect place to teach it: just a few tablespoons of browned butter tossed with, say, a pound of roasted cauliflower and some fresh thyme, or drizzled over pan roasted red snapper with chopped black olives, tomatoes, and marjoram, or poured over organic pork cutlets sprinkled with chopped capers are just three of easily three hundred ways of sharing the joy of cooking in moderation with your family.

Brown Butter Sauce

3 tablespoons of butter
a pinch of sea salt

Heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat until it bubbles, the foam subsides, and the butter turns a nutty, pale straw color—about 5 minutes or so. Take care not to let it turn dark brown, as this will be too bitter. Once the butter is that perfect golden hue, remove from heat, and add a pinch of salt. Toss with or drizzle over your chosen savory dish. A little acidic counterpoint (be it a spritz of lemon juice, some olives, some capers) and a fresh herb (rosemary, parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, what have you) will lift dishes into a crazily delicious realm that few gastrokids (or gastroparents) can resist.
—Hugh

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