The first appearance of brown butter, long ago, was probably the result of an accident, like so many wonderful things – of all kinds – that we enjoy and take for granted. Last night it was an accident again, a very local accident.
I’ve cooked flounder using the recipe I used yesterday more than once, but this time it came with a twist, a serendipity. The next time it appears it won’t be a fluke.
It started when I placed some butter inside an enameled pan above a low flame, intending only to melt it, but then I stepped away, and when I looked back it had started to color, somewhat alarmingly. Fortunately the pan itself was not black, but a light tan, so I could see what was happening and catch it just in time (the butter wasn’t black and had no burnt taste), so I decided I’d go with it.
The result was extraordinary, in both common meanings of the word.
- six small flounder fillets (just under one pound together) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides, coated lightly with well-seasoned flour (I used North Country Farms Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour), then submerged in a shallow bowl containing a mixture of one pullet egg from Millport Dairy, a little whole milk, and a pinch of salt, allowed to stay submerged until the vegetable had been cooked and the remaining ingredients for the fish prepared, then removed from the bowl, placed inside a heavy enameled cast iron pan on top of 3 tablespoons of butter that had been melted and allowed to brown, several halved large fresh sage leaves from Phillips Farm, one section of a dried, crushed orange/golden dried habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm, and one sliced ruddy scallion (the ‘Scarlet Scallion’, a Japanese heirloom) from Norwich Meadows Farm (including some of the green section), sautéed over a brisk flame until golden, about 2 1/2 minutes on the first side, 1 1/2 minutes on the second, sprinkled with some juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, transferred onto warm plates, some chopped parsley from S. & S.O. Farm scattered on top
- a good sized serving of yellow Romano beans from Norwich Meadows Farm, parboiled in salted water for a few minutes, drained, dried inside the same pot over a medium flame while shaking them, reheated, as the fish was being sautéd, in melted butter inside a heavy tin-lined copper pan, tossed with chopped summer savory from Ryder Farm, seasoned with salt and pepper [the beans had cooked longer than I normally would, but they were still delicious, and I remember that in Italy, unaccountably, vegetables are generally cooked much longer than I ever do]
- the wine was a Spanish (Galicia, Rias Baixas) white, Campos de Celtas Albariño 2015, from Manley’s Wine & Spirits in the West Village
There was a dessert, a simple fruit serving.
- Asian melon from Norwich Meadows Farm, a couple of blackberries from Locust Grove Orchards, and a pinch of turbinado sugar, for the crunch, and to sweeten the berries
- the music through out the meal was Rameau’s 1741 ‘Six Concerts en Sextuor Les Talens Lyriques‘, performed by Les Talens Lyriques, directed by Christophe Rousset