The French name for this butter sauce translates literally as “hazelnut butter,” not because it contains nuts but because of the characteristic nutty smell—like butterscotch—of the butter when it is cooked to just the right stage. Do not confuse Beurre Noisette with beurre de noisette, which is actually made with puréed hazelnuts. Usually Beurre Noisette is prepared directly in the pan used for cooking fish or white meats à la meunière (as in the recipe that follows), but it can also be prepared separately, especially for banquets or when a large number of guests is being served at one time. Beurre noisette is also used for innumerable Indian preparations, and in Indian cuisine is known as ghee.
To prepare Beurre Noisette separately, on the stove, slowly melt whole butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. (A)
Continue cooking the butter over medium heat until the water has boiled off (usually 15 to 18 percent of whole butter is water) and the butter froths up. (B, C)
When the water has evaporated and the milk solids have begun to coagulate into small white specks, turn down the flame. (D)
Watch the specks carefully while the butter is cooking. (E)
When the specks turn a medium brown and cling to the sides and bottom of the pan, remove the saucepan from the heat. (F)
Plunge the bottom of the saucepan into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. (G)
Strain the butter through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. (H)
Copyright © 2017 by James Peterson. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.