Butter is Even More Magical Than I Previously Realized

Butter is Even More Magical Than I Previously Realized

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Ariel Knutson
Aug 7, 2014
(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

Culinary School: Week 5 (of 12 weeks)
Last Week's Diary: An Easy Way to Work on Your Pan Flip Technique

According to my culinary school textbook, my class tackled a few ways to prepare fish and learned how to cook potatoes six different ways this week. But really it was all just an exercise in the magic that is butter. We used room-temperature butter, clarified butter, and beurre noisette in our recipes this week. We also learned how to use the "scum," or milk fat, and the water that separates when you clarify butter.

Butter might make things taste a whole lot better, but it's also one of the most useful and versatile ingredients in the kitchen.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Making clarified butter is ridiculously easy: just melt butter at medium-low heat, and it will separate into water (at the bottom), clarified butter (the middle), and then a thin layer of foam or "scum" on top.

While normally I just discard the scum and water after clarifying butter, our instructor taught us that in restaurants nothing should go to waste. You use all parts of the butter: the scum, water, and butter. Apparently the scum makes for an excellent addition to soups, vegetables, or popcorn. The water that is left behind can be used for baking recipes. Who knew!

A couple other photos from culinary school this week:

Here are some super delicious, fancy fish sticks we made with an herb remoulade and a red pepper sauce.

(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

We had an entire class dedicated to potatoes! We created six different recipes, including this potato dauphinoise (lots of butter, cheese, cream).

(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

Next week I tackle chicken and duck – eek!

After dreaming about culinary school for the last five years, I finally signed up for a course this summer at the International Culinary Center in New York. The course, "Culinary Techniques," is a three month class that meets two nights a week, and focuses on classic culinary traditions and methods like knife skills, stock-making, classic recipes, and some pastry.

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