I’m not afraid to admit it. I love butter. I’ve been making this point clear from an early age. When I was just a few years old my parents took me to lunch with family and friends. While they were distracted in conversation, I proceeded to snag every last little foil-wrapped pat of butter that was on the table and stuff it in my mouth before anyone could discover me. The gold paper lay around me, like a storm of wrapping paper after Christmas morning. This only occurred once and I’m pretty sure my older cousin instigated it for her own cruel amusement, but my dad will tell you I did this at least fifty times during my childhood and it’s now a favorite running joke in my family.
After years of oils, vinegars, dressings, tapenades, chutneys, spreads, and – sin above sin -naked bread baskets, it seems that butter is making a comeback. In fact, at many restaurants the presentation of a variety of butter, with or without salt accompaniments, is now a special component of the meal. A little bird told me that Cyrus in Healdsburg even incorporates butter into the cheese course. BUTTER COMPOUNDS or butters flavored with various spices or seasonings, are an easy way to add something interesting to, well, anything really. I’ve made one that mixes 1/2 cup of butter with about 2 teaspoons of truffle oil and a little thyme, or sage and rosemary, and is delicious when melted over potatoes or meat. I’m looking forward to trying it on turkey this Thanksgiving. The October issue of Bon Appetit Magazine has a wonderful little page about compounds with some really creative ideas. Try a pat of the Herb-Lemon on steaks or salmon straight from the grill or over veggies, and the Bacon-Bourbon over your waffles!
BUTTER COMPOUNDS from Bon Appetit, October 2011
Herb-Lemon Zest Butter Put 1 stick of softened, unsalted butter onto a cutting board. Add 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest and 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, chives, and chervil. Add a pinch of salt. Chop together until everything is completely incorporated and evenly combined. Gather the mixture and spread it along the edge of a piece of parchment paper, and then roll the parchment paper over it so you can form a tight log. Twist the ends to make an airtight cylinder and chill until solid, at least 3 hours. Keep up to 2 weeks in refrigerator or 3 months in freezer. When you’re ready to use, unwrap and slice into medallions.
Bacon-Bourbon Butter Cook one strip of bacon in a pan until done but not crispy. Drain on a paper towel and place in a bowl along with 1 teaspoon of the drippings, 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon of bourbon, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and one teaspoon brown sugar. Season with salt, if desired. Mix until completely combined, and follow instructions above for rolling into cylinder.
This is definitely a base technique that allows for lots of creativity. Do you have any ideas for compounds? I would love to hear your feedback! Please respond with a comment if you have any good tips to share with the rest of us. Hope your week is off to a wonderful start!