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Butter Sauce

Sauces and Spicery

(Or Melted Butter Sauce)

Melted butter, with water or milk to form an emulsion, reduced and seasoned. This is the 'melted butter' sauce of Georgian and Edwardian cookery. Compare with Norfolk Sauce and Downton Sauce

"It is very remarkable, that in France, where there is but one religion, the sauces are infinitely varied, whilst in England, where the different sects are innumerable, there is, we may say, but one single sauce. Melted butter, in English cooking, plays nearly the same part as the Lord Mayor's coach at civic ceremonies, calomel in modern medicine, or silver forks in fashionable novels. Melted butter with anchovies, melted butter and capers, melted butter and parsley, melted butter and eggs, melted butter for ever." - Louis Ude in 'The French Cook', 1813

Original Receipt from 'The Cook's Oracle' by William Kitchiner (Kitchiner 1830)

Melted Butter.
Keep a pint stew-pan for this purpose only.
Cut two ounces of butter into little bits, that it may melt more easily, and mix more readily; put it into the stew-pan with a large tea-spoonful (ie. about three drachms) of flour, (some prefer arrow-root, or potato starch, and two table-spoonfuls of milk.
When thoroughly mixed, add six table-spoonfuls of water; hold it over the fire, and shake it round every minute (all the while the same way), till it just begins to simmer; then let it stand quietly and boil up. It should be of the thickness of good cream.
N.B. Two table-spoonfuls of No. 439 [Mushroom Catchup], instead of the milk, will make as good mushroom sauce as need be, and is a superlative accompaniment to either fish, flesh, or fowl.
Obs. This is the best way of preparing melted butter; milk mixes with the butter much more easily and more intimately than water alone can be made to do. This is of proper thickness to be mixed at table with flavouring essences, anchovy, mushroom, or cavice, &c. If made merely to pour over vegetables, add a little more milk to it.
N.B. If the butter oils, put a spoonful of cold water to it, and stir it with a spoon; if it is very much oiled, it must be poured backwards and forwards from the stew-pan to the sauce-boat till it is right again.
Mem. Melted butter made to be mixed with flavouring essences, catchups, &c. should be of the thickness of light batter, that it may adhere to the fish, &c.

Original Receipt in the 'Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery ' by Auguste Escoffier (See: Escoffier);


Mix two oz. of sifted flour with two oz. of melted butter. Dilute with one quart of boiling water, salted to the extent of one-quarter oz. per quart. Stir briskly to ensure a perfect leason, and do not allow to boil. Add immediately the yolks of six eggs mixed with one-quarter pint of cream and the juice of half a lemon. Rub through a tammy, and finish the sauce with five oz. of best fresh butter.

Be careful that the sauce does not boil after it has been thickened.

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