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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Many and Wondrous Applications of Herb Butter

There are few things in this world I cook plain.  As in with no flavour enhancements.  Of course raw fruit and vegetables come to mind... but that's more preparing than cooking.

So, it therefore goes without saying that I cook with a lot of herbs, spices, and miscellaneous flavourings.  In my years I've discovered countless ways of infusing these flavours into food.  Too many ways, in fact, to detail here.

One of these ways, is not really an infusion at all, and more of a superficial addition, or complement.

Once in a rare while, I'll cook some things without any flavouring at all, but plan for there to be an all-encompassing, and super-bad-ass, condiment of some variety.  In such instances, I'll usually take great care and effort in infusing a veritable schwack of palate-whooping tastes into that, as it (obviously) is relied upon solely for all the dish's flavour needs.

This was the case last night, when I prepared a relatively simple meal of salad, steak sandwiches, and roasted potatoes.  Nothing received any flavouring really at all, and were cooked extraordinarily simply.

But then the dark lord learned the art of butter-making, and crafted for himself the one herbed butter.  One butter to rule them all, one butter to find them... one butter to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

And, oh... this butter...

Rosemary and scallion garlic butter, I suppose I'd call it.

And it truly subjugated every dish in this meal, enthralling them each to its evil (but delicious) will.

It has (surprise!!!!!!) Rosemary, garlic, and green onions in it.  Oh yah, and butter.  Some olive oil in there to keep the butter from scalding, but just a titch.  And then some freshly cracked peppercorns, and some rose salt.

Melt your butter (I'd suggest at least 1/2 cup) slowly, over medium-low heat, and then gradually add your onion, garlic, and rosemary.  Let simmer for about 5 or 10 minutes, but before the onion and garlic begin to brown.

Pour this all off into a small bowl or butter dish, and let cool in the fridge (leave it out at room temperature for at least 15 - 20 minutes before shocking its magnificence with the cold, unfeeling, refrigerator).

So, once that's covered and chillin' in el frigo, the hard part of this meal is done.

Whether scared shitless by the terrifying domination to come, or whether they're just calmly and coolly accepting of their doomed fate, the potatoes, steaks, and salad, seem dejected.  Almost sullen.

Oh well, this makes my job easier.

The potatoes just got rinsed and any larger pieces chopped so they're all roughly the same size.

I was dispassionate towards their plaintive mood.


On comes the butter.

Eeeeeeek!  We bow towards the dominance of Herbed Butter!
They complain... but really, they love it.  Shhh, shhh, shhh... yes, you love it.

In any case there was as short a time for the potatoes' anxiety as there was for the herbed butter's exultation; into the oven they all went for over an hour.

So, it was on to mixing the salad.

The meek lettuce - who, let's face it, is kinda used to being other stronger flavours' bitch - was resigned to, almost eager (pitifully!) for, what was about to come.

But, it just got rinsed, and loosely tossed with some tomatoes and some soft creamy cheese.

Again, this preparation was so easy and quick, I was astounded; truly the salad was ready to start its short-lived life of being herbed-butter's thrall.  

In any case, I ignored its sycophantic supplications, and put the salad aside for now. 

Now it was just on to the steak sandwiches.  Drop dead easy this was.  I cut two large pieces of italian loaf, and set them aside, while my cast iron griddle heated up.

Once the griddle was as hot as the fires of Mt. Doom, I threw both the steaks on side-by-side.  Of all the dishes in tonight's ensemble cast, the steaks were definitely the strongest-willed, and they whispered to me gentle claims of righteousness in the calm of the evening.  Fortunately, they were only in the fray for a scant 3 minutes, before being plated.

The next step seems sort of backward, but trust me.

Place your cooked, juice-dripping, steaks on an empty plate.  Then take your bread and smoosh it down onto the still greasy and piping-hot iron griddle.  Toast each side until nice branding marks appear, and the bread absorbs a fair amount of the steak juice.  Now, with one hand, lift the steak from the plate, and with the other hand, place the freshly-grilled toast in the pool of juice that was just left behind.  Put your steak back on top and BOOM - steak sandwich.

Throw some freshly roasted potatoes on your plate, and everything is ready for the almighty bitch-slapping of the master herbed butter.

After any and all life was sucked out of them by roasted slowly in an oven for over an hour, the potatoes were positively passive while being rolled lavishly in the herb butter.

The steak, on the other hand, was wrestled to the earth with the sheer unfathomable awesomeness that is the flavoured Rosemary butter, and became fundamentally, and indelibly, changed thereafter.

The salad received only a small amount of the herb butter, and even that was mixed slightly with some balsamic vinegar, in order to make a vinaigrette.  Compared to the drivel it normally receives, this totally blew the salad's mind.

So, you can see, with the incredibly strong hand of a masterfully crafted herb butter, a few plebeian ingredients from humble origins and with no treatment themselves, can become well and truly beat-down into the submission that is insanely-flavour-packed wonderland.  

In fact, it can happen so fast, and so utterly, that no one even really has the chance to see how it all came to pass.

But when the smoke clears, and the dust settles, everything tastes amazing, and there's this presence which you can't seem to shake... something delicious.  Something constant and uniform amongst everything at the table, seeming to enhance each dish simply by its presence.    

When you put it in your mouth you realize what you're tasting.

It's the taste of subjugation.  

All hail Rosemary Garlic Herb Butter!