Thursday, February 6, 2014

Maitre D'Hotel Butter

A really good steak needs little messing with.  Of course, we have zero culinary use for A-1 Steak Sauce.  Leave that shit for the Applebees/Chilis/Outback crowd.  Sometimes I'll put a little Chicago Steak Seasoning (Penzeys) on my ribeyes cause that's tasty stuff, the hint of charcoal smoke is especially nice when searing steaks inside instead of grilling them out of doors.  But when you get a really, really high-end cut of meat all you really need is kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Season them early- a few hours before you plan to cook them, and keep them on a rack on a sheet pan in the fridge.  Getting air underneath helps to keep the exterior dry, so you get a nice sear when it hits the hot skillet or grill.  Bring them closer to room temp before cooking, 15-30 minutes prior to fire time is fine.  You'll taste steak.  Just like it's supposed to be.  Pure delicious animal.  Other times you might be faced with some steaks that aren't quite as marbled as you would like, perhaps choice cuts instead of prime.  That's when you break out the compound butter to add some flavor to your protein. 

Compound butter, herb butter, or in more fancy terms maitre d'hotel butter, is very easy to make yet delivers fantastic presentation.  The recipe below is pretty standard and a great one to begin with.  I like to add a tiny bit of very thinly sliced shallot.  A spoonful of gorgonzola or roquefort cheese would be lovely with any cut of steak, an ingredient we add every now and then.  Don't forget a nice cab, syrah, or zinfandel!  (For drinking, do not add to butter)

Maitre D'Hotel Butter

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 C parsley, finely chopped
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 TB lemon juice
1/2 ts lemon zest
1/2 ts sea or maldon salt (kosher is fine too)
1/4 ts freshly cracked black pepper

I like to use the stand mixer for compound butter so it can get some use other than making pizza dough.  A food processor will also mix your butter.  A spoon, a bowl and some muscle will too. 

To the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and mix with the paddle on medium speed for a few minutes until lightly whipped.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix on low until incorporated, wiping down the sides with a spatula once to get all the bits that want to hide.  If using a food pro, throw it all in and pulse to combine. 

I use the original wrappings from the butter sticks.  Open them up and place half of the mix in each one.  Transfer those to a sheet of plastic wrap.  Roll the sticks into a log shape and wrap with both layers, then wrap a third outside layer with aluminum foil, twisting the ends like a huge joint.  (so I've been told)  Freeze for at least an hour up to a couple months.  Slice off a few rounds when you need to dress up your ribeyes, strip steaks or t-bones.  Place them on right after cooking and let the heat while resting soften up the butter. 

 What else could you amp up with maitre d'hotel butter?  Baked potatoes, crusty baguette slices, risotto, peas, carrots, and many other foods when you have a log ready to go in your icebox.

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