When it comes to summertime sauces, everyone has their go-to, and ours is a simple clarified garlic butter. Using ingredients that you already have and requiring little to no effort, this dipping and drizzling condiment is the ultimate solution to a dinner rut or bland dish. Serve it with fish, poultry, red meat, pasta, or a slice of crusty bread, and experience the punchy garlic flavor and rich, silky-smooth texture.
Melting butter. Making Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Filling and Chocolate Topping. Series.
Credit: Getty Images; Credit: vinicef

I have a (potentially) unpopular opinion: people get too hung up on homemade sauces and condiments. Don’t get me wrong, a good chimichurri or a creamy buttermilk ranch can take essentially anything, as bland as it may be, and send it on a one-way, first-class flight to Flavor Town, USA. That being said, it’s easy to overthink this part of cooking process. You don’t need heaps of fresh herbs, half of your spice rack, three types of chiles that you can’t pronounce, and a couple of obscure items from the dairy aisle to throw together a sauce in order to elevate a simple dinner. If you think you suffer from SAD (sauce anxiety disorder), talk to your doctor about garlic butter (JK, don’t talk to your doctor about it, just keep reading).

Most of us naturally categorize butter as a cooking fat rather than a condiment. And this isn’t inherently incorrect, however, I’m suggesting that we broaden our horizons with this refrigerator staple. But of course, right? Everybody knows that a touch of butter on just about anything will make it taste better and more satisfying. So naturally, it makes sense that a no-fuss clarified butter made even more delicious with some garlic and herbs is about to become your new best friend this summer. It can be used to jazz up seafood, chicken, pork, pasta, or steak without any added effort or cost. If you like to eat it for dinner, chances are it might be just a couple notches better with a quick dousing of garlic butter. Who can say no to that?

Shrimp Snack Dinner
Credit: Sara Tane

Sara Tane

Here’s how you make this sweet, sweet nectar of the dairy gods. Melt a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until butter starts to foam. Using a slotted spoon, skim the foam off the surface and discard. For a more thorough removal of foam, you can continue to cook the butter down over low heat (allowing the foam to sink back to the bottom), and then strain skimmed butter through a fine wire-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. All this skimming talk to say, clarified butter is going to be delicious, regardless of if you happen to leave behind a little foam or not—unless the solids present a dietary concern for you, having a few floaters left behind is really no big deal. So congratulations, you’ve made drawn butter. Perhaps Red Lobster is hiring.

Now, the part we’ve all been waiting for...GARLIC. Mince up a clove (or 2*) and add it to your drawn butter while it’s still over low heat. This allows the garlic to soften up a bit, while permeating the clarified butter with that signature, pungent flavor. Go ahead and add some fresh minced herbs or a squeeze of lemon juice if you’re feeling fancy. If you don’t have an imaginary cloud bubble above your head right now with a picture of a huge lobster tail, that is a huge problem.

Once you’re the proud new owner of this miracle summer condiment, it’s time to start dunking and drizzling. We’re talking about anything from peel-and-eat shrimp, to boiled red potatoes, to a simple grilled chicken breast, to a slice of crusty bread, to charred summer veggies, to a bowl of pasta. The applications of such a versatile, universally-pleasing sauce truly knows no limits. Now that you are officially this summer’s hottest Chief Boss With the Sauce, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for this impressive achievement. And while you’re at it, maybe try an extra swish of mouthwash, just for good measure.

*Or however many you damn want, you fire-breathing dragon

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane