My very first date with my soon-to-be hubby was at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Salt Lake City. It was there that I was introduced to the famous dish eaten by Homer while writing his epics ... you know, the Iliad and the Odyssey? Oh, you want the name of the dish?
It's Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese.
Myzithra (also written as "mizithra") is a Greek cheese that can be fresh (soft, like a cottage cheese) or hard, similar in texture to a Parmesan cheese. I found a small (quarter sized ball) of this cheese at Harmon's for $4. You can find it at a better price at WINCO. You may be able to find it at similar specialty shops and I've even heard that the Old Spaghetti Factory will sell you some of this cheese. Doesn't hurt to ask!
It is a dish that will please even the youngest and pickiest eaters. You can also change it up by adding and of the following: sauteed mushrooms, bacon, lemon juice, spinach or pine nuts.
What makes this dish extra special is browned butter. I have seen numerous recipes calling for browned butter, but I have never made it. The process is similar to making clarified butter. You cook it further, until you reach a rich, brown stage that has a nutty, caramel taste.
Browning butter is not difficult. You do need to stay, watch and stir the pot.
Use a 3 quart stainless steel saucepan instead of a non-stick pan. You will be able to see the subtle color changes more easily. Put the pan on medium heat and bring the butter to a slow boil (about 5 minutes.)
Once the butter begins to boil, stir constantly to prevent residue from sticking to the bottom of the pan AND to keep the butter from foaming over the sides.
Once the butter stops foaming and rising (this is the clarified stage), cook till amber brown nut in color (1-2 minutes). It will soon have this fantastic, caramel aroma... Be careful to not let it burn!
Remove the pan from the burner and let it cool for about 15 minutes. The residue will settle to the bottom of the pan. Pour the butter through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or coffee filter. This process reduces the amount of salt, allowing you to add the salty Myzithra cheese to your dish.
The browned butter can be stored in the fridge and reheated as necessary. I like to break off a piece and toss it into the pasta and let it melt.
Boil the pasta of your choice. Drain and divide onto serving plates.
This is probably $1.50 worth of shredded Myzithra ~ enough to serve 4 people!
Sprinkle 1/4 c. of Myzithra cheese over each serving. Top with up to 1/4 c. of hot browned butter. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.
Browned Butter Myzithra Spaghetti
1 cup butter
1 cup Myzithra cheese, shredded
pasta of choice 16 oz
2 T. parsley, chopped
Salt to taste
2 t. minced garlic, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, pine nuts, black pepper
Cut butter into small pieces and place in a 2-quart saucepan. Put on medium heat. Bring to a slow boil (about 5 minutes).
Once at a boil, stir constantly to prevent re sticking. Butter will start to foam and rise. Continue stirring, about 5 minutes.
Once the butter stops foaming, cook until amber brown (about 1 to 2 minutes). It will smell like caramel. Be careful to not let it burn.
Remove pan from burner. Let the sediment settle to the bottom of the pan for a few minutes.
Pour the browned butter through a strainer into a small bowl. Do not disturb the residue at the bottom of the pan.*
Store butter in the fridge and reheat in a microwave as needed.Boil the pasta of choice until Al Dente. Drain pasta and divide into four servings. Spread 1/4 cup of Myzithra over each pasta serving. Top with 1/4 cup of hot brown butter.
*the brown residue in the bottom of the pan is very salty.