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Is there anything better than butter?

Yes, brown butter from Black & Bolyard

January 26, 2017 | Photo Black & Bolyard

Mmmmm…butter. It’s one of 150ish’s favorite foods. Our discovery of ghee changed the way we cook, so when we heard that a pair of Eleven Madison Park alumni were crafting small batches of brown butter in Brooklyn, we had to check it out. What we found are jars of deliciousness—nutty, toasty, perfectly browned butter made by Andrew Black and Eric Bolyard under the label Black & Bolyard. After one taste, Francesca and Marisa immediately cleared more space next to their stoves.
 
Here’s the dish. Let’s talk a bit about butter—and why yours should always be made with milk from grass-fed cows. First of all, it tastes better. Also, dairy from cows fed a diet of grasses (as opposed to grain) is much higher in vitamin K and omega-3s, both of which are very important for a healthy heart. If you take that grass-fed butter and cook it very slowly over low heat to separate and remove the milk solids, you will have ghee, which is excellent for cooking thanks to its higher smoke point.
 
But if you take that grass-fed butter, cook it very slowly over low heat to evaporate all the water, then raise the heat to carefully toast those milk solids to a beautiful deep brown, you will have brown butter, or what the French call beurre noisette. It is one of those magical ingredients that will elevate any dish, whether savory or sweet.
 
Eric and Andrew met while cooking at the acclaimed Eleven Madison Park in 2011 and worked there together for three years, after which each left to do some travelling and explore other types of cuisine. Returning to New York, they collaborated on an underground supper club, called Tasting Society, serving pop-up dinners in Williamsburg. A dish of whipped brown butter was one of the first things set on the table and it consistently garnered raves. Realizing its potential as a product, the pair put Tasting Society on hiatus and took a leap; they’ve been making brown butter commercially for about a year.
 
Although they’ve yet to quit their day jobs (Eric is the head chef at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, the Soho offshoot of the famed Paris wine bar, while Andrew is a chocolate maker with Mast Brothers Chocolate), they intend for 2017 to be the breakout year for what they call their “Butter from another Udder.”
 
“We finally decided it’s now or never,” Eric says. “We’ve both been so passionate about the scent and aesthetic of brown butter since we each started cooking professionally ten years ago and we’re excited to be the first company to bring it to retail stores.”
 
While brown butter is a staple in restaurant kitchens, home cooks can—and should—use it just as one would regular butter. Beyond its aroma, which is similar to lightly toasted nuts, brown butter will add a depth and complexity of flavor to any dish. “Use it for pancakes, scrambled eggs, spread it on toast, add it to pasta sauces” Andrew suggests. “It’s great as a topping on roasted meats and fish and adds a whole other layer of complexity to simple sautéed vegetables. You can bake with it, too. We want to explore its versatility and we love hearing how people are using it.”
 
Eric and Andrew start with butter from Kriemhild Dairy (Marisa’s butter of choice, too), in Hamilton, New York. Eric explains, “They provide us with non-GMO, grass-fed butter that has a high butter fat percentage, which is good for us. We visited the farm in the spring of 2016 and spent some time with the cows—they’re extremely happy and well taken care of, and eat an amazing variety of grasses. It all starts from there. We pride ourselves on knowing where it comes from.”
 
In addition to the Original Unfiltered, flavored with only sea salt, Black & Bolyard offer Bay Leaf and Aleppo Pepper versions. “We use fresh bay leaves only. Most people only know dried bay leaves, which unfortunately aren’t very delicious or aromatic,” Andrew says. “On the other end of the spectrum, fresh bay leaves are incredibly fragrant and kind of grassy and floral. We use it a lot with vegetables and it’s amazing with shellfish. It adds a pleasant flavor that’s a bit unfamiliar but very herbaceous.”
 
Eric continues, “People associate sage as the only herb to use with brown butter in a pasta sauce—squash ravioli with sage brown butter is the dish that people are most familiar with—but the spectrum is so much wider. We wanted to shift that perspective. Bay leaf is so much brighter and more alive.”
 
The Aleppo Pepper is flavored with a domestic chile that’s an Aleppo-style pepper. “It’s really nice and piquant,” Andrew says. “People who are afraid of a lot of spice can still enjoy this. It’s somewhere between cayenne and a really mild chile like a poblano.”
 
If you’re looking for a way to up the ante on your Super Bowl snacks, take Andrew’s suggestion of “Popcorn coated with the Aleppo Pepper brown butter and a little fresh lime zest. It’s insane—it’s the ultimate balance of piquant and fresh bright acidity with the richness and complexity of the brown butter.”
 
While Eric and Andrew continue to make every batch of their brown butter by hand, working out of a kitchen space in Crown Heights, they have new flavors in the pipeline that will likely release this year. And then there’s that popcorn: “We want to come out with a line of popcorns,” Eric confirms, “because brown butter popcorn is the ultimate snack—once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never want to eat normal popcorn again.”
 
He continues, “We want to change people’s butter eating habits that have developed over the past 100 years. It will take a lot of education, but once people taste brown butter it will open up a whole new world. We’re really excited to spread the word, and talk about the health benefits of grass-fed butter, which is becoming more recognized these days. We’re offering a product that is delicious and is the healthiest butter you’re going to get.”
 
You can order Black & Bolyard Brown Butter directly by visiting their website, where you’ll also find a list of local retailers that carry the line. Their placement in the new Bryant Park Whole Foods will result in a lot of in-store demos, so watch their social media for dates and details. (Although brown butter is shelf stable and will keep for well over a year unrefrigerated, you’ll find Black & Bolyard in the dairy case, next to regular butter.) 
Bay Leaf Brown Butter Cast Iron Cornbread

Once you’ve wowed your Super Bowl guests with brown butter popcorn, 150ish suggests a great bowl of chili accompanied by Eric and Andrew’s incredible cornbread. We recently attended a chili dinner prepared by our friend Midge Keator and it was so delicious, we asked for the recipe. Of course, it came from the great Rick Bayless and his daughter Lanie—this really is the Worlds Greatest Chili. Eric and Andrew developed this cornbread recipe in conjunction with Field Company, whose beautiful cast iron skillet is highly coveted by Francesca.
 
Ingredients
 1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups coarse cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons Black & Bolyard Bay Leaf Brown Butter
 
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
 
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the egg-milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
 
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat and add the brown butter. Once the butter has melted completely, increase the heat to medium-high and pour the prepared batter into the pan.
 
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean from the center, 17 to 20 minutes. Enjoy warm, spread with more Bay Leaf Brown Butter.
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