I always used to say that I liked a bit of bread with my butter. Now, thanks to going wheat-, gluten-, and grain-free I can just skip the bread altogether. Winning!
Do you remember the best butter you ever ate? I do. 9 years ago – almost to the day – I was dining with some business colleagues at a Michelin 3-starred restaurant in Paris owned by Alain Ducasse who is arguably one of the finest chefs in the world. Alain joined us for the cheese course, dessert, and coffee (one of our party was Alain’s neighbor and another was the Vice President of Microsoft, hence the privilege of having Alain at our table). He had a cellar full of 100-year-old aged cheeses, and wines that cost more money than I earn in a month. But what made me want to marry him was this: he made his own butter. I remember the color – which rightfully should have it’s own Pantone number, the consistency, and oh la la that very first taste. I swear my heart beat a little faster. I stopped eating, turned in wonder to my beautiful French friend, Coralie, and declared, “I just want butter for dinner”. She nodded slowly. She understood.
Things you need to know about butter include that you should exclusively be using it as opposed to any other spreadable butter-like stuff. There should be nothing that even vaguely resembles butter in your ‘fridge or pantry that isn’t actually butter. It’s *real* butter or nothing! Down with butter imposters! (In the interests of my quest to write shorter posts, along with not being the science nerd around here, and having neither the time nor inclination to write the why, read this.)
You should exclusively be using butter that has been made from the milk of cows that are grass-fed. If you live outside the US you might well be wondering why I am even mentioning this (because all cows eat grass, right??). If you live in the US you might well be wondering why I am even mentioning this (because butter is butter is butter, right??). No and no. (If you didn’t read the link in the last paragraph and want to know why the answer to both those questions is no, read this.) And if you have any doubts about how the quality of milk can be dramatically affected by the diet of the milk-producer, read this.
I use Kerrygold Irish Butter. It is the gold standard for grass-fed butter in the US. It tastes and cooks nothing like regular American butter. Try it once and you will never go back.
You should keep your butter in a covered dish out on the counter. Americans – this includes you. Unless you live somewhere where the ambient room temperature renders butter into a puddle, or it takes you a month to get through one package – and if it does then that’s a different conversation that we need to have. It will not go bad if you don’t keep it in the ‘fridge. 75 million Brits have never put their butter in the ‘fridge and there has never been one single case of RTBP (Room Temperature Butter Poisoning) reported. Why keep it on the counter? Because soft and delicious. And because not hard and tasteless. Hard butter makes everything difficult whether you’re just trying to spread it on any of these or you’re whipping up magic. Hard butter is very annoying. Room temperature butter is delightful.
You should buy your Kerrygold in bulk at Costco so you can get it for much cheaper than the grocery stores and make sure that you never run out (in the US the next cheapest place to get Kerrygold is at Trader Joe’s or Walmart or some other grocery stores when they have sales). You can store your bulk stash in the freezer, then once you need it transfer it to your covered dish and store it on the counter. I am repeating this ‘on the counter’ part because I know some of you Americans are sitting there with your hands over your ears singing, “La la la la la la la la”.
And lastly, we have arrived at what is probably the best tip I have given you on anything, ever. And it’s a tip on butter.
I have no idea how I’ve been writing here for over 4 years and not shared this before. When you forget to take the golden goodness out of the freezer in advance (or you are still steadfastly refusing to store it on the counter) and you have some of these rising in the oven, to avoid a disaster of colossal proportions when you realize that you won’t be able to slather on some yellow heaven and eat one hot from the baking sheet, here’s how to soften your butter in a heartbeat: GRATE IT. It is even quicker than microwaving it and is foolproof, which microwaving is most definitely not. Come on – own up. How many times have you microwaved your butter for half a second too long and ended up with a puddle? Seriously, grate it. Big side on the box grater over a plate or bowl. Grate, grate, grate, done. Two minutes later you will have perfect, evenly soft, spreadable butter.
Alain Ducasse, you can still butter me up anytime.