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How to make a sage butter sauce?

magfitz Jan 17, 2007 10:26 PM

I ate at an italian restaurant that serves a veal ravioli-like pasta served with a sage butter sauce. But the thing is that the sage leaves are cooked until crispy. I can't seem to duplicate this at home and don't want to burn the butter. The butter sauce also seemed to be infused with the sage flavor. I assume that this is not as simple as melting butter and cooking sage leaves in it. It probably involves clarifying the butter, correct? Or perhaps something more involved?

Does anyone have any suggestion on how to achieve a similar effect? I have some mushroom ravioli that i would like to serve with a similar preparation with walnuts. Anything you can recommend would be appreciated.

  1. c
    chefmacri Oct 27, 2009 12:31 PM

    You can fry the sage leaves in olive oil or vegetable oil first. Once the leaves stop giving off water and they don't appear to be frying any more, strain the sage leaves out and drain on a paper towel. Drain the oil from the pan, and then you can build your sage brown butter sauce in the same pan with fresh, whole butter, not clarified. Use the fried sage leaves to sprinkle on the pasta once it is plated and sauced.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefmacri
      cinnamon girl Oct 27, 2009 07:44 PM

      Last month's Gourmet mag had a version of this with sweet potato gnocchi. But they don't discard the oil. It was pretty good. You need surprisingly little olive oil if you use a small skillet. I kind of tilted it to one side so the oil would pool, dropped in half the sage leaves and cooked till crispy. Only took abt a min. Remove leaves to drain, cook the rest, repeat. By now there's considerably less oil left, and what there is is infused w the sage flavour. Then add the butter. It will still brown. I don't strain out the milk solids (even in the traditional versions that Flavourgal and MMRuth describe), b/c I think they contribute a lot of flavour . . . and I kinda like the brown flecks anyway. :-)

    2. julietg Jan 18, 2007 05:12 AM

      Saw this sauce last night in The French Laundry Cookbook

      for pasta for six:
      blanch 1/3 c sage leaves (abt 4 bunches. save the small leaves for garnish) in boiling water for 2 minutes. drain. cool in cool water and drain. squeeze leaves dry. heat 1 c creme fraiche, 1 c beurre Monte (in house sauce- any amt of butter emulsified in 1 TB of water), and pinch of kosher salt over low heat until hot; do not boil. place the sage in a blender and chop. leave the blender on, and pour in hot cream to blend. strain and check seasoning.

      in a small pot, heat oil to deep fry to 275 F. fry the small sage leaves briefly until they crisp (their color should not change). drain on paper towels.

      I agree with the blanching part- sage is so tough.

      (Listen to me, "I agree with" Thomas Keller. Sheesh.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: julietg
        FlavoursGal Jan 18, 2007 12:41 PM

        "I agree with the blanching part- sage is so tough."

        When fried, sage leaves turns crisp and delicate.

        In the recipe above, I believe that blanching the sage leaves for 2 minutes is overkill - they probably only need about 30 seconds. Considering that the sage ends up getting pulverized in the blender, the main reason for blanching and shocking it is to bring out, and maintain, its vivid green colour.

      2. 280 Ninth Jan 18, 2007 02:21 AM

        I also add some evoo, too, which adds some complexity to the flavor...

        1. NYchowcook Jan 18, 2007 01:51 AM

          heat up butter until brown. Add sage leaves.

          1. f
            FlavoursGal Jan 18, 2007 01:29 AM

            Make the beurre noisette (literally, "hazelnut butter"), or brown butter first, taking the butter to the medium caramel brown stage. It will smell divine.

            Add the sage leaves at this stage and cook until the butter is a deep caramel colour, about 1 minute, et voila! Sage brown butter sauce. (Caution: stand back as you GENTLY place the sage leaves into the butter; there will be some splattering). Remove the butter to a bowl immediately, as it will continue to cook if left in the saucepan.

            If desired, pass the butter sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the milk solids that have separated from the butter.

            This is a sauce that is traditionally served with pan-fried skate.

            I love to serve this over butternut squash ravioli. A taste of heaven.

            1 Reply
            1. re: FlavoursGal
              MMRuth Jan 18, 2007 12:56 PM

              That's pretty much what I do, but I also like to add some fresh sage to the dish as well before serving - it's a nice contrast to the fried sage. Doing this with rosemary is also delicious, though I just put a branch or two in the butter, then remove before serving.

            2. bolivianita Jan 18, 2007 12:29 AM

              If you melt butter with the sage leaves over med heat and just wait the leaves will crisp up and infuse the butter with flavor. Once the butter is browned to your liking (burnt butter does tsate gross) add a bit of the pasta water and the pasta and toss well. Sometimes its better to use clarified butter but an easier way is just to add a splash of oil in the pan with the butter.

              1. o
                OnceUponABite Jan 17, 2007 11:47 PM

                You might want to try clarifying the butter first. Then use that to infuse with sage leaves at a low temp. Then when the leaves have infused, turn the heat up a bit to brown the butter and fried the leaves more.

                Or you can always fry the leaves separately and just garnish.

                1 Reply
                1. re: OnceUponABite
                  ChristinaMason Oct 27, 2009 03:25 PM

                  i thought the point of clarified butter was that it doesn't brown because there are no milk solids?

                2. Cpt Wafer Jan 17, 2007 11:40 PM

                  I've seen Batali fry (in the deep fryer) sage leaves. It's my guess that's what you were served. As for the sauce, it is a simple as melting butter with fresh sage leaves and holding it at a low temp for a few minutes. You might want to bruise the sage leaves before adding them.

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