It goes without saying that butter is one of the most popular ingredients to use throughout the world. Well, unless you’re vegan, of course. With that being said, many people may not realize that that tub of butter sitting in their refrigerator is sort of magical.
It can take many different forms, it has different uses, and it can taste differently, as well. While all of the forms that butter can take are sinfully delicious, there are two that we’re going to discuss today, and those are drawn butter and clarified butter.
Keep reading to learn the differences between the two and the best way to use each while you’re cooking.
Difference Between Drawn Butter vs Clarified Butter
1. Clarified Butter
Clarified butter is butter that has been melted, but the solids and the water have been removed. Clarified butter is typically used in different sauces, and it makes a particularly delicious condiment for lobster or crab. The best part of clarified butter is the fact that it’s unbelievably easy to make and use. As long as you follow one of these simple instructions, then you should have no problem clarifying butter at home.
Skimming the Solids
- Place the amount of butter that you’re going to use into a saucepan. Melt it slowly over low heat, but make sure that you don’t allow it to burn.
- Remove the butter from the heat and allow it to stand. The solids, which will be a bit foamy, will accumulate at the surface of the melted butter.
- Using a spoon, skim the fat from the butter from the top. It should be a whitish color. Then, you’ll want to strain the clear yellow liquid into a separate container.
Straining Through a Cloth
- Place any amount of butter into a pan. It can be salted or unsalted butter, the choice is yours. Make sure to melt it completely, but don’t overcook it by allowing it to become brown.
- Allow the butter to sit for just a few minutes. This will force the solids to come to the surface of the butter.
- Pass the butter through a cloth. Typically, people use a damp cheesecloth to complete this step, but a clean tea towel will work just as well. Allow the liquid to run through the cloth into a bowl.
Using a Plastic Bag
- Melt whatever amount of butter you’d like to use in a saucepan. Make sure that it stays on low heat and it doesn’t brown. This means that your butter has been on way too long and you’ll have to start over.
- Remove the butter from the heat. Allow it to sit still until the solids have gathered at the top of the butter.
- Using a reliable storage bag with a zipper seal, pour the butter into the bag. Take all of the air out of the bag and seal it closed. Make sure that it’s locked and tight.
- Allow the butter to cool down. There will be two distinct layers forming inside of the bag. There will be a liquid layer on the bottom and a solid layer on the top.
- Cut off one of the corners on the bottom of the bag. You just want to make a small enough hole for the liquid to run through.
- Drain the liquid into a bowl.
Using a Microwave and Turkey Baste
- Put unsalted butter into a regular tall and wide drinking glass.
- Put the glass into the microwave. Melt the butter slowly at mid-power. Heat the butter until you see three different layers form. One should be foamy solids, another should be clear yellow liquid, and the bottom should be heavy solids.
- Allow the glass to sit for a few minutes. Make sure that it’s kept still until the separation has been completed. Remove it from the microwave.
- Squeeze the bulb of the turkey baster. Insert it into the middle layer and suck the clear yellow liquid from the glass.
- Put the butter from the turkey baster into a separate container. Repeat this process until all of the clarified butter has been removed.
Now that we’ve covered how to clarify butter, it’s time to talk about drawn butter.
2. Drawn Butter
Drawn butter is typically used when it comes to butter dipping sauce to be served with lobster or crab. But there really isn’t a specific recipe that defines something as drawn butter. For some chefs, drawn butter is simply clarified butter, and for other chefs, it’s just a bit of melted butter. Just as we did with clarified butter, let’s talk about how to make drawn butter.
Making a Melted Butter Sauce
- This is when you’ll decide whether you want to make melted butter or clarified butter. It’s better to speak with the chef if you’re working with one to find out specifically what he’s looking for.
- Cut the butter into several pieces and melt it in a pan over low heat. Make sure to stir the butter frequently to ensure that it doesn’t burn. This is especially important if you are using a cast iron or stainless steel pan. While you can melt the butter in a microwave, it’s more likely to burn doing it that way.
- Of course, you can serve the butter plain, but you can also flavor it with different seasonings.
This is a simple recipe that people typically use for lobster or other types of seafood:
- ½ cup melted butter
- Juice from one lemon
Salt and pepper to your taste
If you’d like to have a spicier sauce, then you can add 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic, or use cayenne pepper instead of black pepper.
Making Beurre Monte
While it’s not always made the same way, some chefs use the term “drawn butter” synonymously with beurre monte. Beurre monte is melted butter in the form of an emulsion, which means that the milk solids and liquids are distributed evenly instead of separately.
- Heat approximately two tablespoons water in a saucepan or double boiler. Bring the water to a simmer and then immediately reduce the heat to low. It’s important to keep the heat even at just below boiling.
- Chop your butter into small pieces. Add one of them to the water and slowly whisk. The butter should be a milky consistency once it has been melted.
- Continue this process, whisking one chunk of butter at a time.
As you can clearly see, there really isn’t too much of a difference between drawn butter and clarified butter. In fact, depending on who you’re talking to, it can mean the same exact thing. If you’ve never done any of these processes before, make sure to follow the instructions exactly how they are written.
If the directions aren’t followed in the correct way or steps are skipped or forgotten, then the milk solids can most certainly separate, forming a nasty scum film on top of the surface. With that being said, take these new found skills and put them to the test. After all, who doesn’t want a lobster and steak meal for dinner? Just don’t forget about the butter because that’s absolutely the best part!