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Michael Chiarello’s Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Related Ingredients
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Tasting Notes

When melted butter is browned, it becomes nutty, nuanced, complex and caramelized.

Brown butter can be served at all stages, from lightly blond to almost blackened, depending on level of nutty flavor that is desired. Here, brown butter is used to crisp up sage leaves while gently infusing the butter with the sage’s potent herbaceous flavor. The addition of sweet and tangy grated Parmigiano makes the perfect complement to this savory sauce.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Color me delicious. To avoid over-browning or burning the butter, pull the pan off the heat as soon as the butter begins to color. It will continue to brown in the piping hot pan.
  2. Sage advice. As soon as the butter is the right color, add the sage. As the leaves begin to cook, they will bring down the temperature of the butter and slow down the browning process. If the butter still seems to be darkening too fast, carefully add a few drops of the pasta water, and step back to avoid the splatter.
  3. A smooth finish. Sprinkle the Parmigiano over the ravioli after it has been coated in the brown butter. If the cheese is added directly to the butter in the pan, it will quickly melt and become clumpy.

Toolbox

This tool is one we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Sauteuse or sautoir. The heat-controlling heft of this flat, heavy sauté pan with vertical 3 to 4-inch sides makes it possible to brown your butter without burning it.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

  • Small sauteuse or sautoir
  • Large spoon
  • Spider
  • Large pot


Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Large handful of sage leaves
  • Coarse sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Method
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to the water so that it tastes like the ocean.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the sage leaves and let fry until the butter turns amber and smells nutty, and the milk solids (which start as floating foam and soon fall to the bottom of the pan) just start to brown, about 3 minutes. The sage leaves should be brown and crisp. Remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Add 4 ravioli to the pot of boiling salted water at a time. Cook until they are doing the backstroke on the surface, floating flat and not vertically, about 3 minutes. Don’t overcook them. Using a spider, lift the ravioli out of the water and transfer them each to a warm plate. Spoon on the brown butter and top with the sage. Sprinkle with a little salt and finish with freshly grated Parmesan.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Breaded chicken with orzo & sage brown butter sauce

Pound a chicken breast and bread lightly with flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Sauté chicken until cooked through and then top with sage brown butter. Serve with orzo.

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