Combine most of the milk, butter, sugar and salt. Add 1¼ cups of the milk to a medium-sized sauce pot. Then add the butter, sugar and salt.
Prepare the vanilla. Remove the beans from the vanilla pod by first cutting the pod in half horizontally. Then use a paring knife to vertically slice down the center of each half, but not cutting all the way through. With the back of the knife, scrape the vanilla beans into the saucepan and add the emptied pod as well. Set aside.
Make a slurry. In a small bowl, add the egg to the remaining ¼ cup of milk and the cornstarch. Use a small whisk to blend it until it's smooth. (This is called a slurry.)
Cook and temper. Place the saucepan with the milk-butter mixture over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Stir, reduce the heat to low and use a ladle to add about a cup or so of the hot milk mixture to the slurry and immediately blend with the whisk. (This is called tempering.) Now you can add this to the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan and whisking constantly, bring it to a strong simmer. Once you see bubbles and the mixture has slightly thickened, it's done. It should coat the back of a spoon. (It thickens even more as it's cooling.) Remove it from the stove.
Strain and cool. Place a strainer over a bowl and pour the custard through it. You might need the back of a spoon to help you press it through. Cool to room temperature and then store it in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Beneath the lid of the container, put plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to keep it as fresh as possible and to keep from forming a “skin.”
Calorie count is only an estimate.
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