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Butter is Love is Butter

February 19, 2019 | Frank Bonanno

There’s a steak on the grill and it’s filling the whole neighborhood with that meaty fragrance. It’s looking delicious and fat and perfect, right down to the char marks. You can hardly wait for that first bite, anticipating even as the first cut spills juices red and running onto the plate. You chew that first bite, and chew it. And chew it some more.

We’ve all been there, swallowing whole cubes of what was supposed to be tender perfection. Next time, slow down at the end. Rest a couple minutes. Rest the steak, rather. In butter.

On the Mizuna line, we keep a shallow pan of melted butter held at 110 degrees just for resting the meat. Think of it this way, when a steak comes off the grill, all of its moisture retreats to the center of the meat as the outside gets nice and brown and charred–all that flavorful juice just waiting to burst forth at the first knife touch (like pushing on a sponge). Submerging the meat in warm butter insulates it, and as the meat relaxes down to a better eating temperature, the juices have an opportunity to relax as well, and spread back out into the meat gently and evenly (like a sponge). Resting in butter flavors the outside of the steak, too, without really penetrating it– and all that seasoning and browning in turn add flavor to the butter. Resting meat in butter perfects it, outside and in, and those last five minutes give you opportunity to put the corn and the mashed potatoes on the plate, grab the napkins, crack the beer.

We use the resting technique so consistently at Mizuna, and for so many kinds of protein–and in addition to all of the other ways we use butter–that on our busiest nights there got to be a sort of butter chorus flowing from the open kitchen and into the dining room. Pass me the butter, Johnny. Can you fill the butter Manny? Did you whip that in butter, Lemons? Diners heard that song, and, thought, how much butter do they use back there anyway? (Lots, but that’s another story.) So we nicknamed butter “love.” It sounds better that way, ringing into the dining room. Makes a better song. Pass me the love. Did this get enough love? Manny please bring me some love. We need more love in this pan. We need more love.

Johnny Buerre Blanc says there are eleven stages of butter. The internet says there are five or maybe eight -really though, there are a thousand. A thousand million maybe. The resting technique is buerre monte; there’s buerre blanc (the flavor behind the Mizuna Lobster Mac & Cheese) roux,  buerre manie, buerre noisette. . . .and the options go on because butter makes food better. It’s just a great cooking medium. Lucious, rich, creamy, delicious, nutty, flavorful, and deeply satisfying.

That last method I mentioned? Buerre noisette? That is browned butter, an elegant, simple sauce all to flavor any fish or stuffed pasta. It will elevate your cookies and pancakes, and bring Rice Krispie treats to a whole new level of respect. Here’s how you do it:

1. Place a light colored pan over a medium flame.

2. Cut the butter into evenly sized cubes or slices over the pan. Whisk gently as it melts.

3. Once the butter starts to foam, intensify your stirring so that the butter fats separate and gently brown (rather than burning).

4. You’ll smell the browning as much as you see it. The butter will release an intensely nutty aroma (“noisette” means hazelnut), just as the color deepens and darkens. Turn off the flame at this point, and transfer the butter through a strainer and into a glass bowl to cool down. Use right away for pasta or fish, store to use later use in cookies or pancakes or even Cereal Treat Bars.