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Beurre Monté: The Workhorse Sauce

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At the French Laundry, we use an awful lot of butter without serving a lot of butter because of a method and substance called beurre monté—a way of infusing meats and fish with the flavor of butter. We cook in it, rest meats in it, make sauces with it. It's an extraordinary vehicle for both heat and flavor. Here's what beurre monté is: a few drops of water and chunks of butter whisked over a moderate heat to melt the butter and keep it emulsified, in one piece and creamy. Solid butter is an emulsification of butter fat, water, and milk solids; beurre monté is a way to manipulate the emulsification into liquid form.

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  1. Water
  2. 4 tablespoons to 1 pound of butter, cut into chunks
  1. Beurre Monté can be made in any amount using the same cooking method. Bring the water to a boil in an appropriate size saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and begin whisking the butter into the water, bit by bit, to emulsify. Once you have established the emulsion, you can continue to add pieces of butter until you have the quantity of beurre monté that you need (the French Laundry makes 20 pounds at a time). It is important to keep the level of heat gentle and consistent in order to maintain the emulsification.
Notes Make the beurre monté close to the time it will be used and maintain it in a warm place. If you have extra beurre monté, it can be refrigerated and reheated to use as melted butter or it can be clarified.


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