The Reasons Milk Makes for Great Infusions

September 10, 2017

When milk’s involved, magic happens. We’re partnering with Milk Life to learn all about the essential role the farm-fresh beverage plays in elevating everyday recipes—and sharing recipes, tools, and tips for incorporating milk’s rich and smooth texture into wholesome at-home cooking. Read up here.

One of the lessons I’ve remembered most distinctly from Samin Nosrat’s excellent book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is this: Fat holds flavor. Not only is it an indicator of the geographic origins of what you’re cooking—for example olive oil is a very Italian oil, butter a French one, and coconut oil smacks of regions where coconuts grow—but it also literally holds flavor, taking on whatever we cook or steep or blend in it. It’s how garlic infuses olive oil, or why, as Samin writes, we “add vanilla extract or other flavorings directly into the butter or egg yolks” as we bake. These flavorings infuse the fat, which coats and lingers on our tongues.

This is one reason dairy milk is such an excellent base for infusing: its fat content really takes on the flavors of whatever we add to it, whether fresh mint for an ice cream base or, as chef James Briscione does, fresh basil and bits of Parmesan rind for the savory Basil Parmesan Milk that goes into his Crocante Ragazza and Basil Parmesan Panna Cotta with Cherries and Tomato. The other reason milk is such an excellent base for infusions? It’s clean-tasting and just barely sweet, a blank page for other flavors to imprint on. See how James infuses milk (and uses it in two recipes) in the video below. Then, go forth!

Make magic with milk this fall. We're partnering with Milk Life to learn all about milk and the incredible things cows can do—and arming you with recipes, tools, and tips for making use of milk’s superpowers while we’re at it. Have a look at just how essential its seat at the table is here.

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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.