Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Polenta with Roast Pumpkin and Brown Butter | Simple Provisions

How many times per week do you think it’s acceptable to include brown butter in a meal? Three seems reasonable… right?

I made brown butter for the first time last week. A friend brought me some wild mushroom and garlic ravioli and I needed a quick sauce to go with it. Now, for those of you already in on how magical brown butter is, you can nod your head knowingly and smile a distant smile, remembering your first time. For the rest of us, this is a butter that grew up, got an expensive haircut and started annunciating its vowels more clearly. It’s sophisticated and elegantly simple.

Heating butter over a medium heat for a few minutes transforms it from its usual sunny, marigold hue to a golden, molten nutty brown. The colour change comes from the milk solids that separate from the milk fat and turn to brown on the bottom of the pan. The result gives off the most heavenly hazelnut aroma and has a deep, rich flavour that enhances just about anything. You can add herbs or nuts in at the last minute to bump up the flavour also.

Brown Butter with Sage

An homage to brown butter. (My first animated gif!)

My mushroom pasta was elevated from a quick weeknight meal to a dish that left us savouring the last ravioli,  swooshing it around the bowl to collect every last drop of buttery goodness. On the back of this success, I eyed off the butternut squash on the kitchen bench, imagining it roasted and coated in a warm hug of brown butter. This happened the next day, and sat atop a bowl of creamy polenta, to ensure that every last drop of butter was soaked up to provide maximum flavour and butter ingestion.

Now I’m strategising my next brown butter meal. An apple pie with brown butter sounds like autumnal bliss. Or perhaps I’ll keep it basic, and experience fried eggs or sliced tomatoes in a new, golden, nutty brown light. What have you used brown butter for?

Polenta with Roast Pumpkin and Brown Butter

Polenta with Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Butter

Serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a meal

Get your pumpkin roasting while you make your polenta. When they are both ready, keep them warm and make your brown butter.

Roast Pumpkin

  • 1 medium butternut pumpkin
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 220C /430F. Peel and chop your pumpkin into cubes. Place on a lined baking tray and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your cubes, and how charred you like your pumpkin. I like mine a bit caramelised).

Creamy Polenta (using Marcella Hazan’s no-sitr method)

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water if you don’t have stock handy)

Bring stock (or water) to the boil and add salt. Using a balloon whisk to keep the liquid moving, pour polenta into the saucepan in a steady stream, whisking as you go (dumping it all in at once will cause lumps).

Turn the heat to low and continue whisking till the polenta has thickened enough so it doesn’t settle on the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring vigorously every 10 minutes or so to stop it sticking.

To check that it’s done, spoon a little polenta onto a plate. Set aside to cool slightly. Rub between your fingers – if the grains feel soft, the polenta is ready.

Brown Butter

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 a stick, or 56g)
  • 10 sage leaves

Put the butter in a light-coloured pan (so you can see the colour change clearly) over medium heat. Either use a rubber spatula or just swirl the pan to ensure the butter is melting and cooking evenly.

The butter will melt and begin to foam, this is the water content of the butter cooking off. The colour of the butter will change from sunny yellow through golden amber to nutty brown. *Warning* Butter will turn black quickly. You want to keep it at nutty brown. When you start to see the colour transition to brown, throw in the sage leaves. The butter will hiss and pop a bit.

When you smell the hazelnutty aroma (this happens quickly), remove from the heat and transfer to another container (a jar or a small bowl) to stop the cooking process. Use within 15 minutes.

To serve

Arrange pumpkin on the polenta, drizzle the lot with brown butter and finish off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

41 thoughts on “Polenta with Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Butter

  1. chefjulianna says:

    This looks extraordinarily delicious! :D

  2. Wow, I love pumpkin and browned butter.

  3. birgerbird says:

    Brown butter is a go-to when I am entertaining because it always meets with such favor . . . . . I mainly use it with sole & lemon/parsley/shallot, etc. but I like this preparation you offer here with the polenta and butternut. What a simple but lovely dish!

    1. Amelia says:

      I look forward to trying it with fish – yum.

  4. Sam says:

    Oh this looks amazing! So simple. I’m home sick today with a sore throat this is everything I need and more x

    1. Amelia says:

      Oh no Sam! I hope you’re on the mend quickly. X

  5. I have never tried polenta. I know it’s a shame. Your recipe looks amazing. Will be trying it soon!

    1. Amelia says:

      The best part about polenta is turning the leftovers into polenta chips. Worth trying just for that!

  6. Yes and yes! This is a must try!

  7. Heavenly. The polenta as a soaking up device is genius! I had brown butter for the first time last week with gnocchi and mushrooms and it was shockingly tasty. Will be making some soon!

    1. Amelia says:

      It is shocking how tasty plain ol’ butter can be! Pairing it with gnocchi sounds like a good idea, little carb dumplings to soak it all up!

  8. mawarre says:

    Really like the look of this dish and the flavour combination I am sure will be wonderful. It touches all the right spots for our family, that’s for sure. Wondering too, whether a few sliced and pan fried mushrooms would be a worthy addition. mmm mmm

    1. Amelia says:

      Yes! Mushrooms would be delicious.

  9. Sam Sin says:

    Brown butter is a new one for me! How intriguing and delicious. I’ve never tried polenta either so thanks for opening my eyes to these wonderful ingredients prepared in such a simple way! :)

  10. Saskia (1=2) says:

    So many tasty things going on here Amelia – wild mushroom and garlic ravioli (I can only begin to imagine how good that was with brown butter), your action-packed gif and beautiful photos… the roasted pumpkin/polenta combo looks so scoopable and delicious. Really intrigued by the no-stir polenta – I’m all for meals doing their thing unattended, and having free hands for more important things, like grasping a glass of wine.
    PS. Love a good drizzle of brown butter too – I like it tossed through just-cooked green beans or brussels sprouts + toasted pine nuts.
    PS2. Keep us posted if you make the apple pie with brown butter – yum!!

    1. Amelia says:

      I’m all about animated gifs now! You’ll find me plotting what to cook based on how many gifs I can make during the recipe ;) So you’re saying that if I eat my greens I have another excuse for brown butter? I like your thinking Sas!

  11. reggiorif says:

    Great and simple food combinations … the result looks so appetizing!

  12. annmahnet says:

    Oh, MY! I’ve never made brown butter *yet!* but I do have a butternut squash sitting on my counter… A friend just blogged about a recipe for asparagus drizzled with brown butter and parmesan. I need to break out the saucepan! :)

    1. Amelia says:

      Yes Ann! It’s time! You can probably say it in French without butchering it like I do, so that gives you a running start.

  13. Deena Kakaya says:

    I bet this smells as good as it tastes and looks x

    1. Amelia says:

      Sure does Deena!

  14. I’m joining you at the altar of brown butter homage. Praise and glory to that bewitching potion that makes everything lovely. Thank you for inspiring me with an idea for the new sage plant sitting in my garden! xx

  15. Did you garnish this dish with sage?

    1. Amelia says:

      Sure did. I have a little pot of sage on my verandah that gets a workout this time of year when roast meats and veggies call for a sturdy herb.

      1. That’s a good idea. So much better than buying it each time at the store.

  16. Chaya says:

    i just discovered your blog and i love it! this looks delicious.

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you did.

  17. I don’t why I never think of polenta… which is terrible because I love eating it, and this look unbelievable! And I have to ask… polenta chips?! Share, share!

    1. Amelia says:

      Polenta chips are the best! When polenta cools it hardens up. You can then slice it into chips (or any shape really), drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes to crisp up. Delicious!

  18. Never enough brown butter in my opinion! Love this recipe :)

  19. I have never tried brown butter, or polenta, but these lovely pics are convincing me that that needs to change soon!

    1. Amelia says:

      Brown butter is definitely worth trying, and polenta is a good trick to have in your hat when you want a base other than mashed potatoes for a stew or slow-cooked meats like lamb shanks.

  20. I think you meant three times a day to include brown butter in a meal, right? Not week? (: This looks absolutely delicious! It almost (almost) makes me want fall again!

  21. Sue says:

    This looks delicious, thanks!

  22. Hiii! Was just wondering if I could feature you in my top 5 favourite pumpkin recipes blog post?

    1. Amelia says:

      Argh! I didn’t get back to you in time, sorry! But yes, of course!

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