Ludo Lefebvre's Tip for Brown Butter Just Changed Weeknight Cooking Forever
If any chef knows his way around a block of butter, it's Ludo Lefebvre. The L.A.-based chef—he's the owner of L.A.'s Trois Mec, Petit Trois, Trois Familia, and Ludo Bird, and author of Crave—is French, after all. So when he hosted a panel on butter, aptly called Beurre, Beurre, Beurre, at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen this year, the crowd was ready. Or so they thought. No amount of experience or preparation can prepare you for the amount of butter a French chef uses, and the gasps and giggles from the audience proved just that. As he embarked on a demonstration of five butter sauces—brown butter, clarified butter, beurre blanc, Bernaise, and beurre chantilly—the crowd could hardly contain themselves. No matter for Lefebvre. The chef not only whipped up these five sauces, he also showed the audience how to make a classic sole meuniere.
The panel was chock full of juicy tips (never mince shallots in a food processor, for example, because you'll lose the juices. Mince by hand!), but one that caught this French food fanatic off guard was a simple pointer about making brown butter.
"You can do a big batch at home and keep it for a week at least in the fridge. You don't need to make it fresh every time," the chef said as he was making his brown butter.
The fact of the matter is, brown butter isn't complicated to make, but it requires a watchful eye, because if you cook it one second too long, it can burn. "To do a good brown butter is difficult," Lefebvre says. He's picky about it at his restaurants, where they make big batches. The key is to stop just before the milk solids start to burn, and one trick Lefebvre uses to catch the solids from blackening is sticking his saucepan in an ice bath right after he removes it from the heat. Otherwise, the browned butter could continue to cook. He also swirls the cooked butter around in the pan to cool it down.
Despite how finicky it may be, brown butter is really worth having on hand, because, quite simply, "everything is good with brown butter," Lefebvre says. Drizzle it on fish, mix it into chocolate chip cookies, toss gnocchi in a brown butter sauce... the possibilities are endless. When the milk solids caramelize, they turn out toasty notes of hazelnut that are impossible to resist.
So the idea of making one batch to have on hand for an entire week's worth of recipes is pretty brilliant.
It's the kind of thing that sounds obvious once you hear it, but might not be the kind of thing you'll read about when you're scanning meal-prep ideas. It's no surprise this great idea comes from an innate piece of knowledge that any French chef worth his or her salt possesses: You can never have too much butter.