Flavoured Butter

“Sometimes everything just comes together. An idea seems to be perfect with all the loose ends tied up. I had such a moment during a shopping trip to St Malo in Brittany. I was visiting Jean-Yves Bordier, the great French butter maker ….. and I was taken with his beurre d’algues, which is butter flecked with locally-picked green, brown and red seaweeds.”

Stephen Harris, The Sportsman

Stephen Harris goes on to explain that this visit gave him the idea to frenetically wash local Kentish sea lettuce and then put it into his dehydrator at 80°C for several hours until the kitchen ‘smelt of the seaside’. This he adds, together with sea salt, to his handmade butter (follow this link for how to make your own butter). “The butter”, he recalls, “turned bright green and tasted sensational. It was moreish in the way that things that are very umami tend to be”. Harris puts his seaweed butter on, among other things, scallops and slip sole.

But flavoured butters are not only for fish, and they don’t have to be complex to make. If you want to avoid producing a Béarnaise sauce to serve with your perfect steak, you can serve it simply with a herb butter, and the same goes for other meats as well as fish and seafood.

To make it, you simply bring your butter to room temperature. I always keep mine at room temperature anyway, otherwise it’s a nightmare to spread. Use unsalted butter if possible – but then you must add in some smoked sea salt first. Then you beat in all the ingredients and  form and freeze (or keep in the fridge) it. Just dig out with a spoon as and when you need it.

Here are some flavours and suggestions of what goes with what. One brick of butter (250g/8 oz) is enough for about ten people:

Herb butter – a traditional accompaniment to steak, or with snails

For this you really are better off using unsalted butter because you will get more flavour out of the clove of garlic if you crush it under the flat of a big kitchen knife with some smoked salt.

  • 1 brick of butter
  • zest of a small lemon
  • 5 cloves of garlic, ground with
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • few grinds of Indonesian long black pepper
  • six tablespoons of a mix of two or three herbs – tarragon and sage is rather nice

Blue cheese butter – good with pork, or on its own on toast

Follow this link for some information about Irish blue cheeses. Blue cheese and walnut butter is also very good with steak. Goats’ cheese butter is also good – especially with finely chopped pistachios.

  • 1 brick of butter
  • ⅔ cup/80g crumbled blue cheese
  • couple of tablespoons of chopped sage

Red butter – with chicken

  • 1 brick of butter
  • a roasted red pepper from the deli
  • three teaspoon of sweet, smoked paprika
  • a few grinds of Indonesian long black pepper
  • the leaves taken off a small bunch of thyme

Prawn butter

You might not want to make this in quite such large quantities. Simply take a 150g pack of shelled prawns, chopped small. Mix with about 50g (a fifth of a brick) of butter, and some ground pepper and a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice. Garnish with lemon zest and a whole prawn. Serve with warm, crusty bread and pea soup.

prawn butter recipe
Serve the prawn butter with a creamy pea soup, dashed with pomegranate molasses.

Mediterranean basil butter – add to pasta or risotto

  • 1 brick of butter
  • about eight tablespoons of finely grated parmesan
  • shredded leaves of a small bunch of basil
  • two tablespoons of sundried tomato paste

Anchovy butter – on omelettes

  • 1 x brick of butter
  • A couple of tablespoons of Patum Peperium
  • A tablespoon of furkake
  • 2 teaspoons of good quality soy sauce

Lime butter – especially good with fish, also on corn on the cob

  • 1 brick of butter
  • Zest of two limes
  • ½ teaspoon crushed dried chillies
  • Small bunch chopped coriander

Horseradish butter – good with salmon or roast beef

  • 1 brick of butter
  • A bunch of chopped chives
  • 4 tablespoons of creamed horseradish
  • About twenty grinds of Indonesian long black pepper

Mushroom butter – good on mussels

NB because you haven’t cooked the mushrooms first this butter should be cooked along with whatever it accompanies. It will not keep more than a few days in the fridge.

  • 1 brick of butter
  • Small bunch of chopped parsley
  • 100g/4 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 80g/3 oz (this is a typical small pack) of Parma ham
  • 6 cloves of garlic – minced as described above – with the smoked salt
  • 20 grinds of Indonesian long black pepper

Chive butter – good with smoked eel

  • zest of a lemon
  • 100g/4 oz butter
  • 4 tbsp/25g/1 oz chopped chives
  • few drops of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Wasabi butter – great with steak – and wasabi aïoli

  • 1 brick  of butter, softened
  • 5 teaspoons of freshly grated wasabi

Za’atar butter – also good with steak and a watercress and spring onion salad with a lime juice based dressing

  • zest of a lime
  • 100g/4 oz butter
  • 1 tsp lime zest (zest of one lime – use the juice for the dressing)
  • smoked salt and Kampot pepper if you have it

Parsley and caper butter – excellent with white fish

  • 100g/4 oz butter
  • 2 tbsps chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp capers, rinsed thoroughly if in brine (you could soak in milk and then rinse to get the vinegary taste away, capers should really taste a little sweet), dried and chopped.

Seaweed butter – excellent, as Stephen Harris advises, with scallops or slip sole

You don’t need a dehydrator – you can experiment with adding a little crushed, dried Nori seaweed and smoked sea salt.

Marmite butter – À La Ainsworth and Groves

Paul Ainsworth will add about one teaspoon of Marmite to about 50g/2 oz butter and a spritz of lemon juice. Brush on meat, or meaty fish such as monkfish. Steve Groves adds Marmite butter to a dish of scallops, potatoes and asparagus.

Other flavours to try:

  • blue cheese and walnut (goes well with beef)
  • horseradish and chives (again, good with both beef and fish)
  • orange zest and basil (lovely with chicken, or asparagus…or on broccoli)
  • sundried tomato, feta and oregano (excellent with lamb)
  • lemon zest, basil, garlic, pine nut (with fish, chicken and vegetables)
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