Drawn butter is clarified butter.
But before we can define clarified butter, we must first understand
regular butter. Butter is the semisolid material that results from churning
cream. In the US it must be at least 80% milk fat. The remaining 20%
is water and milk solids, (proteins and salts). It may be salted or
unsalted. The salt, which acts as a preservative, allows for salted
butter to last up to a month in your fridge as opposed to two weeks
for unsalted butter.
Clarified butter is unsalted butter
that has been heated to the point that its water evaporates and the
milk solids separate out. The resulting golden fluid is the clarified
butter, i.e., pure butter fat. One pound of butter will yield about
12 ounces of clarified butter. To clarify your butter, heat it on low.
Some of the proteins will coagulate and produce a foam on the surface
which must be skimmed off. Continue to cook until the butter becomes
clear and the remaining milk solids congregate on the bottom. Then either
ladle or pour out the butter being careful not to include the milk solids.
If you 'just melt the butter'and fail to remove the milk solids, you
will have just that: melted butter, not drawn or clarified butter.
Clarified butter is often preferred
to regular butter for sautéing because it has a higher smoke
point. This means it can be heated to a higher temperature than regular
butter before burning. Those pesky milk solids are miniature kamikaze
pilots, diving right to the bottom of your pan and burning themselves
up. Without them, clarified butter will store longer as well. But they
are not totally evil. They also provide flavor and thus, clarified butter
is not as tasty as regular butter.
Clarified butter is only one chapter
in the butter story. Butter can do so much more than lubricate your
crustaceans. Butter is often used to make roux, a cooked mixture of
equal parts butter and flour. Roux is used to thicken sauces and soups.
No cook worth his salt, (pardon the pun), could make gumbo without roux.
(Ok yes, you can use okra but classic gumbo always contains roux). In
classic French cuisine, roux was the thickener of choice for a multitude
of sauces. Modern sauces are congealed via evaporation from extended
heating or by adding in a starch-based thickener such as arrowroot or
cornstarch. But if you wish to laugh in the face of fat, favor a more
hearty sauce, or simply wish to honor tradition, roux is the way to
A delicious preparation employing
butter is compound butter. This is simply butter that has been combined
with herbs, garlic, shallots, or other flavorings. Simply take a stick
or two of butter and allow it to soften to room temperature. Chop up
whatever combination of herbs suits your taste, such as rosemary, thyme,
and parsley for example. Then mix them into the butter. Take a sheet
of plastic wrap and spoon out the butter into a rough shaped log. Then
roll the plastic around it. Finally, hold each end of the plastic and
twist in opposite directions until the plastic tightens around the butter
and forces it into a neat cylindrical shape. Refrigerate it and then
slice it to top off your finished steak, pork, lamb, fowl, or fish.
You'll never get that garnish with your dinner on the cardiac ward of
your local hospital.
And where would fettuccine Alfredo
be without butter? An Alfredo sauce is basically a combination of butter,
cream and Parmesan cheese. How much of each? I'd go with four ounces,
(one stick) of butter, two cups heavy cream, and two cups of Parmesan
cheese. Melt the butter in the cream and bring it to a simmer. Incorporate
the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Cook your pasta until it
is just a minute or two from being done and then finish it in the sauce.