Side Dish: How much butter?

Ever wonder why restaurants’ dishes taste richer than yours?

Butter. Lots of it.

“With enough butter, anything is good,” Julia Child noted. And, professional chefs certainly know fat provides flavor.

“In a professional kitchen, we sauté in a mixture of butter and oil for that nice brown, caramelized color, and we finish nearly every sauce with it … ; that’s why my sauce tastes creamier and mellower than yours,” American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain wrote in his 2000 book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.”

For an example of what he’s talking about, take a look at the recipes that were in the Sept. 5 EatPlayLive section.

We heard from plenty of readers after they read the Shrimp Tchefuncte recipe from Palace Café chef Brandon Meutzel and the Redfish on the Half Shell With Lemon Beurre Blanc recipe from Bourbon House chef Darin Nesbit.

All asked the same question: “Is the amount of butter correct?”

“Yes,” I’d answer. “There are eight sticks in the shrimp dish’s Creole meunière sauce and 12 in the redfish recipe’s beurre blanc. Yes, I’m certain.”

When Wesley Noble Janssen, marketing manager of Dickie Brennan & Co., heard about the many inquiries about the amount of butter, she got in touch with Nesbit, who kindly supplied a “lighter” Creole Meunière recipe as well as a recipe for traditional meunière, which still uses a lot of butter but not as much as in the Creole and doesn’t use any heavy whipping cream.

“The latter will certainly not be as rich as what people expect of Palace Café’s Shrimp Tchefunte,” Janssen warned.

Nesbit also provided his recipe for a fish fumet, a concentrated stock, that could be used with the redfish recipe instead of the lemon beurre blanc.

Happy eating!

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is

Creole Meunière Sauce

Makes 3 cups. Recipe is provided by chef Darin Nesbit, Bourbon House, New Orleans.

1 lemon, peeled, cut into quarters

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

½ cup Crystal hot sauce

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups (4 sticks) whole, unsalted butter

Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

1. Combine the lemon, Worcestershire and hot sauce in a heavy sauce pot. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is thick and syrupy, whisking constantly.

2. Whisk in the heavy cream and reduce again until thick and then whisk in the butter one piece at a time, mixing until the butter has been completely incorporated after each addition.

3. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper then strain through a fine mesh strainer and keep warm until ready to serve.

Classic Meunière

Makes about 1 cup. Recipe is provided by chef Darin Nesbit, Bourbon House, New Orleans, who said this is an alternative to the Creole meunière sauce. He said, “This would be a lighter, fresher sauce but not the same richness.”

8 tbls. unsalted butter

2 tbls. minced garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tbls. parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottom pan melt the butter until it turns a light hazelnut brown. Add the garlic and cook until brown, but do not let the butter burn.

2. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan and add parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Fish Fumet (Stock) Sauce

Makes about 10 servings. Recipe is from chef Darin Nesbit, Bourbon House, New Orleans, who says this can be used as an alternative to Lemon Beurre Blanc.

1 tbl. whole unsalted butter

1 cup diced onion

1 tbl. minced garlic

2½ lbs. fish bones, rinsed well (not heads)

¼ cup mushroom peelings

½ tsp. fresh thyme

3 sprigs parsley

1 tbl. lemon juice

¾ cup white wine

2 qts. water or fish stock or broth (which would make it much more flavorful)

1 tbl. heavy cream

2 tbls. butter

Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

1. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottom stock pot, melt butter and sweat onions and garlic for several minutes until soft. Add fish bones, mushrooms, thyme and parsley sprigs and cover pot. Steam contents for approximately 5 minutes; remove cover, add lemon juice, white wine and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and reserve.

2. To make the sauce: Reduce fumet over medium heat by half, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream and cook for 1 minute. At this point, you could add any flavorings you desire (for example, herbs or saffron) and finish by mounting in 2 tablespoons butter and seasoning with kosher salt and white pepper.

Note: If you are substituting this sauce for lemon butter, you may want to add additional lemon juice. Home cooks may prefer to buy clam juice or fish stock or broth instead of making the fumet and then reduce that by half. Add cream and finish with lemon juice and butter. For a pint of finished sauce, start with a quart of clam juice or fish broth.