Making brown butter is an easy and useful technique to learn, and here we've combined it with fresh sage, walnuts, and whole wheat penne to make a simple yet elegant pasta dish that's perfect for a weeknight dinner or a casual company meal.
4piecesboneless, skinless chicken breasts, (1 to 1-1/4 lbs)
6tablespoonsunsalted butter, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2cupwalnuts, roughly chopped
8fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
1tablespoonfresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground nutmeg, (optional)
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap, gently pound them to an even thickness of about 1/2-inch, then slice them crosswise into 1/4-inch thick strips.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a stainless or enameled cast iron frying pan and add the shallot. Sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the chicken and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Continue cooking until the chicken is lightly golden on all sides and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 4 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Transfer the chicken and all its pan juices to a bowl and set aside.
Wipe out the pan and melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the walnuts and sage and continue cooking until you see the butterfat and milk solids (small white flecks) in the butter starting to separate.
Continue cooking, swirling the pan from time to time, until the milk solids turn deep, golden brown in color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the reserved chicken and pan juices, combine well and cover to keep warm.
Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pan and combine it with the chicken and brown butter sauce mixture, adding a little of the pasta liquid if needed.
To serve, plate individual portions, garnish with chopped parsley and a little freshly ground nutmeg.
Tips for Making This Recipe
Use a stainless steel or enameled cast iron pan with a light-colored interior so you can keep a close eye on the color of the butter as it browns.
Use unsalted butter. Salted butter has a tendency to foam more which makes it harder to judge when the color is right.