The French are right – butter makes everything taste better. It’s the golden panacea that gently yields to the warmth of your mouth, coating your tongue with its silky richness. It transforms vegetables into something worth eating, and let’s face it – a potato without butter is like a cocktail without ice. “With enough butter, anything is good,” said Julia Child – a trencherman after my own sticky heart.
Look away now if you care about syns, buy oil in a spray, or own a George Forman; the best pomme puree you’ve ever had was likely to be made with 50/50 butter to potatoes.
In India, butter is the precious substance provided by sacred cows, elevating its status as a revered food. It’s generously pooled into soft bread rolls that runs down your arms, clarified into life-affirming ghee, and forms the basis of curries. Mother’s milk is the elixir of life.
The only thing that makes butter better is when its caramelised. When the sugars are cooked, they create sweet, fudgy, flavours along with a nutty aroma that improve any dish – savoury or sweet.
Hold a buttercup to my face and my chin would glisten brown. Brown butter is the polar opposite of those mean rock-hard ‘portions’ of butter sitting on your plate intended for your bread and soup, barely dolls-house size.
Don’t just take my word for it; brown butter is scientifically more delicious. The maillard reaction is the chemical reaction which occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars when heat is applied. Food is browned while releasing new aromas. It’s the aroma that converts vegetarians into eating bacon when no one’s home, makes you long for roast chicken on Sundays and makes pitch-side sausages sizzling into an irresistible idea.
How to make the perfect caramelised butter
Heat butter gently in a pan, past the beautiful foaming stage, until the colour progresses from yellow to golden until finally brown. Leave it a second too long and it’ll burn and taste acrid. If you aren’t throwing something in the pan immediately, don’t take the colour too far, otherwise it will carry on cooking with the residual heat.
5 swaps to make your food more delicious
After ricing the cooked potatoes, add brown butter and warmed milk back to the pan and beat the hell out of it until all lumps have yielded. Season with liberal abandon.
Brown an embarrassment of butter in a pan and allow to cool slightly. Add your whisked eggs to the butter and gently stir over a low heat. Add salt halfway through (not too early so that the eggs go grey and watery) and some chives if you’re feeling exotic.
Take your favourite sponge cake recipe. Cream together half of the butter and sugar, but brown the other half of the butter before adding to the mix. Your batter will become a fudgy delight. This sponge will be the perfect accompaniment for strawberries, salted caramel or chocolate.
Whipped brown butter
Just before the butter turns the perfect toffee brown, remove from the heat. Allow to cool, before adding flakes of sea salt to taste. Whip in a food processor until creamy and light. Smother over hunks of bread, your partner or anyone else who takes your fancy.
As your meat is nearly finished in the pan, throw in a fistful of butter. With a tablespoon, baste the steak repeatedly with the butter as it foams. Remove before the butter is overcooked and pour over the glistening steak while it rests.
Huffington Post submission 21/05