ugly butter

(by katie steele)

cold hard unyielding

it sits

clicking start of sulpher scented gas

nary but a thin layer of metal protection

from the heated lick of blue flame

silently slips into golden pool

petulant pops and hisses


as pool slumps and gathers

amber gives way to mahogany

deeply fragrant nuttiness

wafts upwards

one step from burned ruin

it reaches perfection.

and so goes january.
* * *

one dozen fresh tortelli pasta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
fine grain sea salt
grated zest of one lemon
2 - 3 big handfuls of torn arugula or other bitter/spicy greens
plenty of grated fresh pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook tortelli per package instructions, or until the pasta floats, in well-salted water. Then drain, reserving a small cup of the pasta water.

In the meantime, place the butter in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter has browned and is very fragrant and nutty smelling. Remove from heat, and let it cool off for a minute or so. Whisk in the vinegar, a couple pinches of salt, and most of the lemon zest.

Add the cooked pasta to the brown butter pan and toss gently. Add a tiny, tiny splash of the reserved pasta water and toss again. Add the arugula, then turn out immediately into individual bowls or a serving platter topped with a bit of cheese and the remaining lemon zest.


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