The craving: I dream of beefy bites lost in butter.

The palate: utterly rich

The dish: Brown Butter Sauce Over Filet Mignon

Transformation of an old favorite: butter. When patiently cooked, the key component of this rich, brown sauce morphs before our eyes from the ordinary staple we know to another animal. The browning of the milk solids changes the melted liquid to tiny bits that then emit a toasty, salty, nutty flavor, inspiring the French to coin the sauce “Beurre noisette”: hazelnut butter.

Delicious on its own with just butter and salt, brown butter sauce can also act as a great base for other flavors. Sage and garlic are perfect to add when coating our filet mignon. Other brown butter steak treatments introduce multi-cultural edge: Mexican, adding chipotle; Asian, adding ginger; Italian, adding roasted tomato and French, adding blue cheese.   

Although the basic brown butter sauce is simple enough to prepare with its single key ingredient, the likely hazard one faces is burning the butter. Chef Dave Beaulieu advises “To make sure the pan’s not too hot, I like to use medium heat and when in doubt, you can start at a lower temperature and just let it go longer and/or turn it up as the butter melts.” Having conquered this challenge, home chefs can confidently include one more fundamental technique within their repertoires.

Brown Butter Sauce includes:

  • consistently: butter, salt
  • often: sage, garlic, black pepper
  • occasionally: shallot, red wine, thyme, olive oil, lemon juice
  • rarely: capers, black olives, roasted red pepper, cheese, bacon, beef broth

Variations for Brown Butter Sauce:

  • prepare sauce after the steak has been cooked using drippings in the same pan
  • top other foods such as pasta, fish, chicken and vegetables
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Steak Sauces