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Lemon butter has two definitions. It can refer to cold butter in sticks or whipped that has actually been flavored with lemon and sugar. More commonly it refers to lemon butter sauce or meuniere, a wonderful tart, creamy and savory sauce that can be used to top a variety of different dishes. White meats, light fish and shellfish, and plenty of vegetables are commonly served with lemon butter sauce.
Lemon butter sauce begins with clarified butter or ghee. This is butter that has been melted, and then strained. When you melt butter you’ll note little pieces of white in it, which is milk solids. By straining the butter, you get a clear yellow substance that’s a little lower in fat.
Traditional lemon butter recipes call for clarified butter to be browned slowly over low heat, adding about three tablespoons lemon juice for every half cup (113.4 grams) of butter. Many chefs also add a tablespoon of chopped parsley. For a stronger parsley flavor, use flat leaf or Italian parsley instead of curly-leafed varieties. You can also adjust the amount of lemon juice for greater or lesser lemon flavor depending upon your personal taste. If you are using unsalted butter, you should add salt and pepper to taste.
Some people begin recipes for fish or chicken by cooking them in butter. Dishes like scallops, sole, or prawns can easily be sautéed in about 7-10 minutes. They are removed from the pan and then lemon sauce is made in the pan. Note this type doesn’t typically use ghee, just plain melted butter. You can make your own ghee and substitute it. To lend more flavor to the finished dish, the fish may be added back to the completed lemon butter and briefly sautéed in it. Alternately, the sauce can simply be poured over the fish, poultry, or shellfish.
Sometimes lemon butter is served on the side of certain shellfish, like lobster or crab. People can then dip pieces of the shellfish into the butter. This can be a nice change from serving the traditional ghee as a dipping sauce with lobster, and lemon pairs very well with most shellfish.
If you’d like to encourage your children to eat more vegetables, you might consider adding this sauce to cauliflower, green beans, broccoli or even mixed veggies. The child in the house who simply won’t eat veggies may be tempted by this savory sauce to eat and dip their way to more vitamins. Of course, they’re also consuming more fat, but this may be a fair trade off if the determined broccoli hater suddenly becomes a fan due to lemon butter.