A traditional French and Italian sauce also known as black butter or beurre noir. It is the essence of simplicity to make at home and will make a dish of simple grilled fish really shine. It is also lovely spooned on top of ravioli and gnocchi.

Although this sauce does sound quite rich, the slight caramelisation of the milk solids present in the butter provides divine alchemy. Instead of being fatty, the sauce ends up nutty and sweet, while the vinegar helps to cut through any residual richness. It is one of those simple recipes that ends up more than the sum of its parts


  • 100g (3 1/2oz) butter
  • 10ml (2 tsp) white wine vinegar


    Place butter in a small saucepan on a medium to high heat. Stand by with a wooden spoon and watch like a hawk, even though it is called "burnt" butter it is only meant to be brown. Once the foam has started to recede, watch for small brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir to lift this off the base of the pan and into the sauce. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar; BE CAREFUL, IT WILL SPIT, stir again and serve immediately.

    ♦ For a variation try adding some fresh sage leaves or some rinsed and well drained capers straight after the vinegar
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