Butter and Salt, Together at Last!

3 11 2008

I still get a kick out of the section of my stats page that shows the search engine terms that have brought visitors to my blog.  My favorite one today was a search for “chickenstock.”  Sounds like some kind of Poultry Farmers Festival.  The music probably sucks, but I bet you’d learn some interesting new chicken recipes.  Last week sometime, I got a hit from someone searching for “buttery flavor,” which pleased me perhaps a little too much.  (Last night we had a dinner party and I said something to Nick about how I don’t like people to watch me use butter, because if they knew how much I was putting into, say, the polenta, they might not want to eat it.  But that’s why it tastes so good!)

So you could say that a lot of my cooking depends on that “buttery flavor.”  And I realized that while I have been basking in its glory for the better part of a year now, I have yet to write a post about the gastronomic delight that is French butter.  Today, I rectify the situation.

Aside from the fact that all the butter here is the “European Style” we shell out big bucks for in the States, the sheer variety of available butters makes France a shangri-la for those of us with the Fat Tooth.  They take their butter seriously.  One of my very favorite French butter products is the one with crystals of sea salt embedded within its creamy goodness.

So many salted butters, so little time.

This is not cooking butter, no, this is for slathering indiscriminately on torn-off chunks of warm pain tradition.  I even prefer it slightly cold, the better to let it slowly melt on my tongue as I wait for the forthcoming bursts of salt.  Or, as the case may be when I’m feeling less disciplined, biting into it and enjoying the contrast in temperatures and textures: cool, yielding butter; crunchy pops of salt; warm, chewy bread.  Now that’s buttery flavor!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




9 responses

3 11 2008

Hi Camille! Good thing you tell us about the butter in the polenta today. It was delicious and now I know why. Although, if I had thought about it for a minute, I probably could have figured that one out – this is one of those times when I’ll proudly claim the title of happily ignorant. Thanks again for a wonderful evening and great food. Hope to do something similar soon!

3 11 2008
Apples and Butter

Ummm wow. I’m now craving pads of sea salt butter. Thinking about running home right now and softening some butter and mixing in Maldon sea salt to create something similar. I am going to immediately start a search for this stuff at specialty food stores in the states and if I cannot find it, I am seriously making my own. If you can’t tell, I love butter. Thanks for giving me a new obsession!

3 11 2008

I had a similar experience with Irish butter last month. Except, when you’re road-tripping around Ireland, it’s just butter and it’s on every table. Yum.

3 11 2008

I’ve never understood why Americans like European butter so much. Sure it’s great but there must be good American butter too, or am I wrong?

4 11 2008
Reuben Morningchilde

Thanks. Now I sit here in the office, drooling like Pawlow’s dog, with the dire urge to raid some bakery, get some butter and get eating.
And then, reality hits with the force of a wet blanket, and I remember that I sit in the heart of Germany, with good bread a dime a dozen, but no decent butter far and wide…
Need to get off on vacation again and off to France.

4 11 2008

Melissa – It was my pleasure. Great to meet you!

Apples – I think making your own salted butter is a fantastic idea!

erin – You were in Ireland last month? Why not France?

Sam – Generally, American butter has an 80% butterfat content, with around 15% water and 5% milk solids. European butter is at least 82% fat, and my personal theory (after working with both a LOT) is that it also has more milk solids and less water. Not only does this make for a better tasting butter, it makes a smoother butter better suited to most pastry tasks from buttercream to croissants and other laminated doughs.

Reuben – Really? No good butter in Germany? Bummer. Luckily, France is right next door. 🙂

4 11 2008

I have to agree about French butter, good, good stuff and with variety. I haven’t been to the Organic Market in a while, but I love how at the dairy stand, they have big blocks of butter (doux, demi-sel and gros sel) and they cut off a hunk of whatever size you want. Mmmmm, butter.

5 11 2008

I lived half my life (ok, two thirds — I’m not that old) in mortal fear of butter. But once I started really cooking, I realized it’s irreplaceable. Certain things just work better with butter. That sea-salt flecked French butter really does sound worth it.

6 11 2008

Trisha – To tell the truth, I never really got what was so great about butter before I moved to France (the first time – I had a healthy appreciation of butter by the time I started culinary school).

Hope – I really need to check out that organic market one of these weekends!

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