Some foods are just better with butter; better dipped in butter, or served with lashings of melted butter. Those steamed organic French green beans? Add some butter. Have a tough little steak? Get out the beurre de maitre d’hotel.
And honestly, is there is nothing more satisfying than eating home made popcorn with oodles of melted butter? When you are still only halfway through the movie, and you have polished off the fluffy popped whole kernels, and you are reduced to pushing the hard nubbins and old maids around the bottom of the bowl, through the clots of salt and the limpid pools of melted butter. Divine! And look! Mr. D’Arcy and Lizzie are coming around, again! Pride and Prejudice can never get more romantic than that!
Melted butter is the principal excuse for eating so many of our favorite foods: popcorn, lobster, and artichokes. Add to those basics corn on the cob, conch, potatoes Anna, steamed stone crabs; feel free to fill in the blanks with a few of your own! _____________________________, ______________________________ and don’t forget___________________________. These foods are merely vehicles for conveying melted butter down our gullets and chins.
Here is a cheat sheet:
First: You have to know how to make clarified butter. In a 1-quart saucepan melt 1/2 cup butter over low heat without stirring. Remove from the heat and let the butter cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Use a spoon to skim off the milky top layer, if present, and discard. Pour off the clear top layer and save. This is the clarified butter.
Steamed lobster: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/perfectly-steamed-lobster
Steamed artichokes: http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/steam-artichoke-2/
How to eat an artichoke: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Basic-Steamed-Artichokes-506509
Corn on the cob: http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/18/mexican-corn-cob/
Potatoes Anna: http://www.marthastewart.com/338792/potatoes-anna
This was the recipe I used for years, and I thought quite deelish, but now my college graduate children say they disliked intensely. They said it was too greasy. Perhaps I erred on the heavy-handed side with the butter. But to my children, ungrateful wretches, to whom I say, “It’s a good thing you don’t live here anymore!”
Butter-Dipped Radishes: for when you need to impress! http://thesensitiveepicure.blogspot.com/2013/12/butter-dipped-radishes-with-sea-salt.html
The science of melted butter in baked goods: http://www.finecooking.com/item/31976/melted-butter-in-baked-goods
My brother is the mashed potato guru in our family. He is called upon to ritualistically prepare the tubers for major feast days. He mashes the steaming potatoes with a hand-held electric mixer before adding cream and then melted butter. He insists that using melted butter is the swiftest path to lump-free potatoes. And with the holidays sneaking up on us once again, that is probably a fun fact to file away.
You will be pleased to know that I draw the line at cinnamon fried butter from the Iowa State Fair– something I found during my research. It was almost as off-putting at the Fried Pig Ears (from the Minnesota State Fair) in a photo just below the fried butter story. Blech. (http://kitchenette.jezebel.com/the-most-ridiculous-deep-fried-foods-from-state-fairs-a-1572769682) I am sure that someday my heart will thank me for finally drawing a line in the butter!
Once, long ago and far, far away, I ordered Chicken Kiev at the old Russian Tea Room restaurant in New York City. It was a glorious, intimidating place, and I was fairly certain in my college-sophisticate fashion, that it was very expensive. I had read about it in New York Magazine, after all. I think I was given one of those menus often passed out to women diners in those days – no prices were printed on it. I had a reputation in college for being a cheap date, and invariably I would order chicken. Dutifully, I sipped thimbles of cold vodka, and fumbled with some unfamiliar caviar and blinis. When my default chicken dish arrived I was surprised, first when the waiter cut into it for me, and then when a small wave of tarragon-infused molten butter gushed out onto my plate. The chandelier and mirror-glittery, red velvet flocked restaurant was full of surprises. And the melted butter made it all so delicious.
“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.”
― Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle