The fear of fat is fading away. Though Americans have been embracing ingredients like avocados and olive oil for a number of years now, it seems that saturated fats might not be as evil as we once thought. WebMD revealed an analysis of 72 studies indicated consuming saturated fats doesn’t increase the of heart disease. Ingredients once shunned for being unhealthy are making their way back to the table, especially butter. According to Entrepreneur, cooking with this delicious dairy is one of the biggest food trends for 2015.
Aside from being stylish, butter is one of the most flavorful ingredients you can add to your cooking. It’s also extremely versatile, working equally well in a cake as it does in a creamy sauce. Try one of these seven recipes to start showing butter a little more love, and you’ll love every bite.
1. Fettuccine Alfredo
You’ve probably had a plate or two of cream-swathed noodles in your day. That thick sauce most of us call Alfredo isn’t at all what it started out as, though. The original recipe didn’t contain any cream. It was nothing more than freshly cooked pasta, butter, and Parmesan. Get a taste of the original with Mario Batali’s decadent dish, featured on Food Network.
When you go to drain the pasta, don’t forget to reserve a cup or so of the water from the pot. It’s the magic liquid that ensures a creamy sauce. And time is not on your side with this dish, so serve it the instant you’ve finished tossing everything together.
- ¾ pound egg fettuccine
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ¼ freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper
Directions: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook pasta according to package directions, until tender, but still a bit firm. Drain pasta, reserving some of pasta water, and place in a large, warm bowl.
Add diced butter and cheese to pasta, and toss until melted, adding a splash or two of pasta water to thin, as needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve at once.
2. Pan Seared Trout with Pecan Brown Butter Sauce
Cooking for two is pretty challenging when one person is a seafood lover and the other a seafood loather. Instead of making two separate meals, find some middle ground with Saveur’s delicious recipe for seared trout. Unlike some seafood, trout is a relatively mild fish that takes on just about any flavor. In this case, it’s a toasty brown butter sauce that gets a nice bit of crunch from pecans.
Trout fillets are quite thin, so they’ll cook in less than 5 minutes. As soon as the seafood is ready, just add a mixture of butter, lemon, and pecans to the same pan. It will spatter a lot at first, but will settle down as it cooks. As soon as the butter is golden, spoon it over the fish for a fantastic meal any night of the week.
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup roughly chopped pecans, divided
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup flour
- 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless rainbow trout fillets
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Directions: In a food processor, purée 8 tablespoons butter, ½ cup pecans, scallion, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until smooth. Set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining butter in a 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat. Place flour on a plate. Season two fish fillets with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking to remove excess. Cook fish, flipping once, until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and fish. Transfer trout to serving plates. Add remaining pecans to skillet, and toast, 2 to 3 minutes. Add butter mixture to pan. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Spoon butter sauce over trout. Garnish with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.
3. Butter-Poached Green Beans with Lemon and Thyme
If you’re sick of your go-to green beans sautéed in olive oil, you’ll love this easy oven method from Every Day with Rachael Ray. All you have to do is melt some butter in a skillet, add the veggies, lemon, and thyme, then send it to the oven for 30 minutes. Feel free to try the method with other vegetables, but remember you may have to adjust the cooking time.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 thyme sprig
- ½ lemon, sliced
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In an ovenproof skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add green beans, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Add thyme and lemon. Cover, and bake until beans are tender, about 30 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve.
4. White Beans with Bacon, Poached Eggs, and Harissa Butter
When you think of recipes using butter, your mind probably heads to France. This hearty bean and bacon dish from Put an Egg on It, featured on Epicurious, turns that notion on its head by using some spicy harissa. Filled with beans, tomatoes, broccoli rabe, and eggs, it’s a complete meal that you can enjoy any time of day.
If you’re new to harissa, it’s not too difficult to find these days. Many regular grocery stores now carry it, and it’s a cinch to track down at specialty shops. You can also make your own if you’re feeling up for a challenge.
- 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 eggs
- 1 strip thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 cup roughly chopped broccoli rabe
- Kosher salt
- 1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon harissa
- Flaky sea salt
Directions: Line a plate with paper towels, and set aside. Fill a saucepan two-thirds full with water, and add vinegar. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Crack eggs into a small bowl, one at a time, and slide into simmering water. Poach until whites are cooked but yolks remain runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Add broccoli rabe to bacon drippings in pan with a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until broccoli rabe is brightened in color and softens, about 2 minutes. Transfer broccoli rabe to a small bowl, and set aside.
Add bacon, beans, and tomatoes to skillet, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, swirling pan, until butter solids brown and mixture smells toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in harissa to combine.
Divide bean mixture between two bowls. Top with broccoli rabe and eggs. Drizzle with harissa butter, and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve.
5. Grilled Strip Steaks with Herb Butter
A good steak doesn’t need much more than salt and pepper to taste fantastic, but a touch of herb butter might be a slight improvement. This simple steak from Southern Boy Dishes gets it right with a topping made from thyme, garlic, parsley, and butter. While this recipe is perfect for weeknights, it’s also elegant enough to cook for a date. Go ahead and double the butter recipe, because it adds loads of flavor to any of your favorite proteins or veggies.
- 4 (8- to 10-ounce) New York strip steaks
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely minced thyme
- 2 teaspoons finely minced parsley
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Directions: Mix butter, garlic, thyme, parsley, and ¼ teaspoon salt together with a fork in a small bowl. Roll butter into a log on a sheet of plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
Season steaks with salt and pepper. Heat a grill, or heavy skillet, to medium-high heat. Cook steak to desired doneness. Serve with butter.
6. Sautéed Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc
Beurre Blanc is a lot less difficult than it sounds, so it’s time to give this French classic a shot. Williams Sonoma’s recipe lets the sauce shine on some simply cooked scallops with a sprinkle of chives. Add some steamed vegetables and any of your favorite grains for a complete meal.
To make the sauce, start by reducing the lemon juice, vermouth, and shallot. Once the liquid is cooked down, remove it from the heat, and start whisking in the butter a bit at a time. The key is to make sure the sauce doesn’t get too hot, because it will break, but it needs to be warm enough to melt the butter. You may have to move the pot on and off the heat a few times. Be patient, because the results are worth it.
- 30 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Canola oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dry vermouth
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Minced chives
Directions: Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat scallops dry with paper towels, and season both sides with salt and white pepper. Coat bottom of large skillet with oil, and heat over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Working in batches, and adding oil between batches, cook scallops. Sear until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Flip, and sear until second side is golden, about 1 minute longer. Transfer scallops to a platter, and keep warm in oven.
In a small, heavy, nonreactive saucepan, combine lemon juice, vermouth, and shallot over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until liquid is reduced to about 1 teaspoon. Remove pan from heat, and whisk in one piece of better, then another. Place pan over lowest heat, and whisk in remaining butter, one piece at a time, to form an emulsified sauce. Remove from heat, and whisk in salt and pepper, to taste. Pour sauce over scallops, and sprinkle with chives. Serve.
7. Butter Pound Cake
Most desserts use butter, but very few let the flavor shine. This decadent pound cake from Fine Cooking shows off the rich taste with a simple recipe. While it’s a perfect dessert as is, there are tons of ways you can morph it into something more impressive. Use it as a base for strawberry shortcake, or grill a few slices to serve with chocolate sauce and ice cream. If you really want to go over the top, you could even use it to make an ultra-rich french toast for dessert. Or have it for breakfast. That’s your call.
- 1¼ cups unsalted butter, softened
- 2½ cups cake flour, plus more
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions: Position oven rack in center and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a bundt pan, dust with flour, and tap out excess. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt to combine.
In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and beat in yolks until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula, and then add whole eggs, one at a time, waiting about 20 seconds before adding another, with mixer on medium-low speed. Scrape sides down with spatula once again.
With mixer on low speed, add half of flour, and mix just to combine. Add milk, and mix to combine. Add remaining flour, and mix just until combined. Scrape down sides with spatula, then add vanilla. Mix at medium speed until fluffy and smooth, about 20 to 30 seconds.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Run a knife through batter, and tap pan to dislodge any air bubbles. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes.
Cool cake in pan 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.