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Brown butter is something worth talking about. Growing up, Grandma only made brown butter frosting for her cinnamon rolls. The frosting became a caramel color and took on an otherworldly flavor that has to be tasted to truly understand. Great-Grandma would make noodles and serve them with brown butter drizzled over the top.
And while it sounds special, brown butter is easy to make. You start with good butter and slowly melt it over medium heat. The butter will begin to fizzle and foam, showing that it is cooking. Eventually, the foaming subsides and the butter becomes quiet, leaving small brown bits in the bottom of the saucepan. After some additional cooling, the bits become deep golden brown and smell nutty, almost caramel-like. This is brown butter and it’s the perfect sauce for this brown butter spaghetti recipe!
The ingredients in this brown butter spaghetti
- Salted butter will become the browned butter. In baking, I often use unsalted in order to control the amount of salt. Salted butter has various amounts of salt, but I find that when salt has been incorporated into the butter, it brings out more flavor. This is precisely why I use salted butter in this application.
- Spaghetti is always in the pantry and I’ll let you in on a secret. It can be used with something other than a traditional red sauce. Cook the pasta to al dente, meaning that it still needs one or two minutes before it is fully cooked. This allows the pasta to finish cooking when it’s added to the sauce.
- Bacon is browned and chopped then added towards the end of cooking. This really makes this a quick and easy weeknight meal. What’s great is that the bacon can be made ahead and ready to go at dinner time.
- Asparagus is a perfectly fresh, green flavor with a nice texture. In order to cut down any cooking time and make the asparagus easy to eat, it’s shaved with a vegetable peeler. This takes some time but it’s worth it and can be done while the pasta is cooking and the butter is browning.
- Pecorino cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese. The flavor has a nutty undertone that works well with the brown butter. If Pecorino is hard to find, you can also use Parmesan cheese.
- Lemon juice is the perfect way to add a bright flavor at the end of cooking. The citrus wakes up the other flavors, cutting through the rich butter and making sure each flavor is able to be tasted.
- Chives are not just for looks. The light, sweet, onion-like flavor is a perfect garnish to provide a bit of fresh flavor without being overpowering.
To be honest, brown butter is a transformative ingredient and the flavor can work with so many foods. In this recipe, the nutty deep flavor becomes the base for a sauce. Once made, you don’t realize the sauce is actually based on butter! Instead, you have a full-flavored complex sauce that leaves everyone wanting more.
Don’t let the ease of this dish make you think it isn’t amazing. This is one that will be made time and again!
Watch how to make this brown butter spaghetti
Brown Butter Spaghetti with Bacon & Asparagus
- 8 tbsp salted butter
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 12 oz bacon browned
- 12 oz asparagus shaved
- 4 oz Pecorino cheese grated
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup chopped chives
- Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Once boiling, add 1 tbsp salt and the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti until al dente, meaning the pasta needs 1-2 minutes of additional cooking. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce.1 lb spaghetti
- In a 6-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, it will begin to cook and foam. Continue to cook the butter until the foaming slows down and brown bits form in the bottom of the pan, 6-8 minutes. If the butter is brown before the pasta is ready, remove the butter from the heat to stop cooking as brown butter can burn quickly.8 tbsp salted butter
- Once the butter is browned, add the al dente pasta to the brown butter and stir. Add the grated Pecorino cheese and ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Stir to combine and add the shaved asparagus and bacon. Stir until the asparagus is wilted. Stir and add more pasta liquid if needed. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and serve with a sprinkle of chives.12 oz bacon, 12 oz asparagus, 4 oz Pecorino cheese, 2 tbsp lemon juice, ¼ cup chopped chives