Butter. Chocolate. Sugar. Pasta. Wine. Those are the five food groups, right?
I have been intoning this like a mantra for so long, I wonder if I can even come up with the original five. (Note: I say the original five, not the correct five. I think vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy were among them, but I wouldn't bet my life on it.)
A parcel of butter, my favorite of the five, arrived at my door recently. I was sent some samples of new butters that Beurre Président is releasing to the U.S. market this month, and I am very excited to share my findings with you. (I did, indeed, receive free samples of the butter to review, but the opinions stated are my own.)
First, I must say their packaging was stellar. As a consumer, you will probably never receive 21 ounces of butter by mail, but trust me, I have never received so beautiful, well-packed, and chilled a package in my life. It arrived on my doorstep. In the desert. On a 105° day. It waited there till I got home from work. And it was perfectly fine. (Whew! The idea of wasted butter had my stomach churning...)
A bright red, sturdy box within the corrugated brown outer box, contained myriad ice packs, thawed but still cold, some promotional materials, party decorations, and butter.
There were one 7-ounce bar (salted) and two new spreadable butters in 7-ounce tubs, one simply salted, and the other .... wait for it ... sea salt! I didn't quite swoon, but I was pretty giddy!
The planning started immediately... What would I do with each? I wanted the uses to be special, but I also wanted to put them to the test. (Another disclosure: I have been cooking with unsalted Beurre Président since I can remember. Président, to my memory, was the first European butter available in the States. This shipment is my first salted Beurre Président.)
In the end, each type would get its own vehicle - its own parade float, as it were.
The salted bar was carefully worked into flour to become a slab of quick puff pastry - rolled, cut, and baked into crescent rolls. Sublime!
The salted spreadable butter adorned pasta, flavored simply with some sage from our garden and a light grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Exquisite!
The sea salt? I wanted this one by itself. It would be slathered (liberally) on homemade bread. (In the almost words of Meghan Trainor, "It's all about that taste.")
As you may recall from my post, Confessions of a Salt Addict, I am a salt-oholic. I really love salt. But, oddly, I never buy salted butter, as I prefer the creamy flavor of the butter, adding my own salt according to whim or taste.
I truly liked these salted butters, and tasted each of them on its own before putting each to its intended use. The trademark creaminess of Beurre Président was consistent in all three. The bar and spreadable salted were lightly - yet perfectly – salted, and close to identical in taste to my palate. The sea salt was strong; it actually surprised me. I was almost concerned it was too much. (I needn't have worried...)
The pastry was so tender and flaky. It is perfect for a savory use; I would not use this butter for a dessert pastry. The salted spreadable was amazing on the pasta - its soft, velvety feel on the tongue is just what pasta burro e salvia requires.
The sea salt spreadable butter on bread was perfection. The saltiness toned down, and it made the bread taste incredibly good. Normally, I butter my bread or toast with unsalted butter and sprinkle on my own salt, but this was not difficult to swallow!
One of my favorite qualities of Beurre Président is how it melts in the pan for sautéeing and searing. It doesn't spatter and spittle because it hasn’t been padded out with water like U.S. butters. It browns chicken and meats beautifully, and imparts the flavor of pure cream. And for Sole Meunière? There is no equal.
I started this buttery journey loving Beurre Président unsalted butter, and I have opened my arms and heart to its salted kin. There is a time and place for each, and they are not interchangeable. Think carefully when using salted and unsalted butters, and how the salt will affect your final dish.
Speaking of Sole Meunière, here is my mother's recipe. A real favorite.
Mom's Sole Meunière
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 sole fillets, each about 4 ounces
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon strained fresh lemon juice
sprigs of parsley
Place flour in a pie plate. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt (lightly) and freshly ground pepper. Dredge fish on both sides with flour, and shale off excess. place floured fillets on a platter and set aside.
Heat oil in a large, well-seasoned skillet until it is hot, and shimmers. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter; quickly swirl skillet to coat. When foam subsides, add fish and cook until golden - about 2 minutes per side. Divide fish between 2 heated plates, tent with foil, and set aside.
In a small skillet, heat remaining butter and cook until golden - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and add parsley and lemon. The sauce may sputter. Spoon sauce over fish, and serve with lemon wedges and sprigs of parsley.
(Final disclosure: Please note that chocolate, sugar, and wine all come from plants, therefore they are vegetables and fruits. And pasta is made from wheat which is, duh, a grain. Need I point out that butter is a dairy product?)