This might seem like a silly post. Why in the world would you want to burn butter??
I had the same reaction when I learned that it was the main ingredient in one of my favorite pasta dishes (compliments of my very Greek friend and her family).
Trust me, though. It’s delicious. It provides a richer, heartier flavor than regular melted butter – but is still fairly light compared to other sauces you might use for various dishes.
While delicious and totally worth it, burning butter takes time, and there’s a little bit of an art to doing it properly. So – I will attempt to demonstrate – and thus share with you the wonderful world of burnt buttery goodness.
*For a side dish – we usually use about 2-2.5 T of regular, unsalted butter (this will NOT work with margarine or butter substitutes). For a main pasta dish, we might use 3-3.5 T for the two of us.
1. You’ll need a relatively small saucepan – you want the butter to coat the bottom well, but you don’t want it to well up too far into the saucepan (and if it does, you sure are using a LOT of butter there…), because it will take much longer to burn.
2. We have an electric stove (hate it), but we put it on medium heat and pretty much leave it there the whole time. I would suggest using medium-low heat on a gas stove for this.
3. Throw the butter in and let it melt. Once it’s fully melted, start swirling it around in the pan just a bit to mix everything up. A foam layer will eventually build over the top of the butter – which is usually your halfway checkpoint.
4. Once your butter starts to bubble and pop a bit (not a lot – if it’s spraying you, turn your heat down), you should start regularly swirling the butter around in the pan. You should start to see some brown bits showing up in the butter, which is good – keep swirling.
5. The burning will happen very quickly. The butter will begin to turn a darker color, and then will, almost instantly, burn to a nice amber color. You will also be able to notice a difference in the smell right away.
6. If you’ve got your heat right, you should be able to keep swirling for another minute or two at most to let the butter flavor up.
*Note: your butter should not turn chocolate brown or black. If this happens, it is NOT going to taste right, and will totally turn you off to the whole idea, especially if it’s your first time making it. I would suggest starting over.
7. Pour over your dish and serve. The butter will still be mostly clear, but you’ll definitely have the flavor. Make sure you get the burnt pieces from the bottom of the pan, too – they’re the best part.
I know this is a pretty subjective list of instructions – so I have a video for you. I started taping just after the butter formed the foam over the top layer. Hopefully, you can clearly see the color changes and the point where the butter burns. Don’t mind my creaky stove (also, apologies for the terrible quality – I had Alex record it on my phone. You can get the gist of the process, though – and you can hear me say “there it goes” when it starts to burn).
The only time we use BB is on the rare occasion that we make pasta (corn, quinoa, or rice – of course). We just pour the charred deliciousness over our pasta and top with a bit of grated parmesan cheese for a light side dish or a full dinner.
Even though I’ve only ever used BB for pasta, I think it would definitely work well with other starchy foods – like roasted or mashed potatoes, and maybe even with some roasted veggies, or over a baked chicken dish.
Even if you don’t like the whole BB thing, or can’t get it down the first time you try – now you have a new tool in your kitchen toolbox, right?