April 9, 2009

Browned butter

Or beurre noisette, if you want to sound fancy.

Creamfest 2009 is in full swing over here. Since the last post, I've made two more batches of butter (one cultured, one plain), a giant pot of chicken fettucine alfredo, and I'm in the process of making mascarpone.

The mascarpone is taking forever to drain, so I will tell you the tale of browned butter instead.

The first batch of butter had way too much water in it, so much that it squished faintly when being scooped out of the tub. The only way to get the water out was to heat the butter and clarify it, so that is what I did.

I started out with the giant mass of butter in a heavy bottomed frying pan on low heat, thinking to separate out the butterfat without damaging the milk proteins with excess heat.  But when I saw the sheer amount of water that was separating out, I decided to go with browned butter and switched to high heat.

Boiling off the water took a long-ass time.

I stirred and continually skimmed off the foam. Butter is weird. There were three separate stages of foaming-up along the way.

Also, did I mention that this process makes the kitchen smell like butter? Ridiculously so.

As the mixture reduced, I turned the heat to medium to avoid scorching and spattering, and just kept stirring and waiting.

Eventually all the water was boiled away and I was left with milk proteins and butterfat. That was also disturbing, because I was frying butter solids in butter.

I let the milk proteins caramelize to a golden-tan color before removing the pan from heat and letting them finish browning from residual heat (heavy bottomed pan = heat reservoir). Carryover is your friend.

After skimming off all the foam that was left:

We went and hung out at a friend's place and watched LOST and when we returned many hours later, the butter was semi-solid. All the delicious browned bits were still at the bottom of the pan, so I stirred them through the butter evenly and poured it into the tub:

Damn, there was a lot of water in there. And probably air from the whipping. Fixed now!

Now it smells like toffee and it tastes deliciously browned and nutty.

The More You Know: If you separate the clear butterfat from the browned solids, you wind up with ghee, aka clarified butter, which is used in Indian cooking. But why would you abandon those deliciously browned solids?

1 comment:

  1. Browned butter is the very best butter to bake with! Everything comes out tasting like toffee! You will have to post updates about the uses of such things.