French butter, in the parlance of today’s times, hits a little differently. Made with active cultures, French butter has a different, creamier, more complex taste than other kinds of butter. The cultures used are probiotic and gut-friendly. Chef Becky uses butter heavily in her cooking and baking. “I’m a butter girl,” she says. “We use butter across baking, of course, but also in making breakfast, entrees, sides, and so much,” she explains. “While it sometimes has a bad health reputation, studies have shown that butter is good for the brain, especially right brain-type activities involving mathematics. It’s an earthy, straightforward ingredient that’s been used forever.”
Butter, in its relative simplicity, is a flexible jumping-off point for compounding: adding ingredients, herbs, and flavors in order to boost the butter. Cooking with marijuana, for example, requires taking the herb to a certain high temp to activate it, as well as needing fat for solubility. You can experiment with the spices you have on hand by adding them to butter and seeing what flavor combos you can get. A few different seasonings turn into a mind-boggling number of permutations. We’re all familiar with honey butter, but how about paprika butter? Smoked paprika butter? Herbes de provence butter? Use your imagination!
Butter is the Glue
Dry ingredients, especially when baking, are held together perfectly by butter, which can be solidified or liquified with a little time and temperature variance. Thicker than water, butter both absorbs flavor and absorbs into other ingredients. Added to coffee – as in bulletproof-type coffees – it helps the stomach better process the acidity of coffee and takes the jittery edge off of the strongest of coffees. Clarified butter, or ghee, removes the solids so that a purified liquid (or solid) remains, which is often used for eating shellfish.
Spicy Cheddar Biscuit
Chef Becky makes her biscuits by hand, using butter to bind the flour. Adding cheddar cheese and jalapeno, these biscuits lay the foundation for an elevated turkey sandwich. Be mindful of the jalapeno element: depending on growing conditions, amount of sunlight, age, and cross-pollination, some jalapenos will be as spice-less as green peppers, and some will require gloves to handle, they are so intense. Think of the humble jalapeno as a moody teenager: sometimes harmless, sometimes vitriolic! A little hot pepper kick goes a long way, especially if the heat is of a creeper or accumulating nature. Chef Becky thinks in terms of point and counterpoint, as in music theory: “The mellowness of the cheddar tames the jalapeno, while the jalapeno makes the biscuit more robust and lively,” she explains. “Watch out for suspiciously inexpensive butter blends or fake kinds of butter,” she warns. “Some butters have a greasy, stale, processed taste. You want a butter that tastes fresh and clean.”