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Cooking with Fire

Cooking With Fire: Sage

Nika Akin

It's that time of year again.

I’m not talking about the temperature suddenly dropping below freezing and the wind blowing us around like leaves. No, it’s that time of year when everyone has an opinion on how you should cook your Thanksgiving turkey, and what sides are best for your gathering.

But I’d like to, instead, focus on the unsung hero of our holiday dinners, the spices and herbs we rely on to give us those classic flavors — especially sage.

For centuries sage has been an important part of not only culinary traditions, but was praised for its medicinal uses as well. Sage tea has been known to calm the stomach, ease sore throats, and even help with memory loss. The Chinese were so enamored with it that they were willing to trade four pounds of Chinese tea for every one pound of sage tea from France.

These days, of course, we rely on more modern medicine for our day to day ills, but sage has stuck around because it’s just as tasty as it is useful.

Think of classic breakfast sausage, or your grandmother’s turkey stuffing: Sage has a strong flavor that is easy to remember but blends well with other spices as to not overpower a dish.

Enjoy this recipe for a simple brown butter and sage sauce that can be used as a gravy replacement or on everything from chicken to vegetables. It's truly versatile sauce that can be used year-round.

Brown Butter and Sage Sauce


  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 20 small sage leaves
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)


  1. Place a medium-sized cast-iron skillet over an open fire, allow it to heat up. Take half of your sage leaves and toast them in the dry skillet until they become fragrant and begin to toast.
  2. Remove the skillet from the direct heat and place the butter and remaining sage leaves into the hot skillet.
  3. Allow the butter to cook until it develops a nutty fragrance, three to five minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and serve.