Posts Tagged ‘Butter’

As I type, my beloved Coonhound, Hitcher, lies next to me. He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer a few weeks ago. He has been my constant sidekick since we found him, as an abandoned puppy, on a roadside 10+ years ago. This news has been tough – very, very tough. Once again, I will use this Good Eats project to distract myself.

As the daughter and granddaughter of Marylanders, I have had my share of crab over the years. Growing up, a trip to Grandma and Granddaddy’s was not complete without a crab dinner (or 3!). Whether it was a trip to a local seafood restaurant, a family crab picking session around Grandma’s table, or a plate of Grandma’s amazing homemade crab cakes, crab was something we ate early and often. Yes, this was an episode I eagerly anticipated.

Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs

Alton’s preparation of crab legs was first in this episode. When purchasing crab legs, it is best to buy frozen legs (frozen crab has already been cooked), thawing them overnight in the refrigerator at home; just be sure to allow the moisture to drain away from them as they thaw, and consume any thawed crab within 24 hours. Alaskan king crab legs are large, so you can allot two per person.

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Alaskan king crab legs.

Working with three legs at a time, break/cut each leg into sections at the joints. Wrap the segments in two layers of damp paper towels, along with a sprig of fresh dill.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments and topped with fresh dill.

Wrap the entire bundle tightly in plastic wrap, and microwave it for two minutes on high power; the goal here is to re-heat, rather than re-cook the crab.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments, and topped with fresh dill. Wrapped in damp paper towels and plastic wrap, the whole bundle heads into the microwave.

Let the heated crab legs rest in their bundles while you microwave any remaining packages of crab. Serve the legs with ghee, which just happens to be the next recipe in this episode.

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Steamed crab legs, served with ghee.

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Alton’s crab leg method is outstanding. It takes almost no time to prepare an amazing meal, using this method. If you want to have crab legs at home, this is the way to do it.

Ghee

What goes better with crab than butter? As mentioned above, Alton recommends serving his crab legs with ghee. To make Alton’s ghee, melt a pound (I did 1/2 pound) of unsalted butter over low heat.

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Melting unsalted butter over low heat.

As soon as the butter has liquefied, increase the heat to medium.

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Liquefied butter. Increasing the heat to medium.

Continue to cook the butter over medium heat until it finishes foaming.

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Butter, foaming for the first time.

When the foaming has ceased, increase the heat to high and wait for the butter to foam a second time. Watch the pan carefully, as the butter can easily burn.

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Butter, foaming for the second time.

When your ghee is ready, the pan will have brown bits on the bottom and the butter will have darkened slightly. Strain the ghee into a clean container and serve.

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Strained ghee.

Ghee is a perfect accompaniment for crab legs, and Alton’s explanation of how to make ghee is super easy. If you prep crab legs at home, be sure to make some ghee also!

Marinated Crab Salad

Alton’s third crab recipe is for a marinated crab salad. I suppose you could just purchase crab meat for this, which is how the online recipe is written, but what fun would that be? Instead, in the episode, Alton hand picked the meat from two Dungeness crabs. Thankfully, I was able to find whole Dungeness crabs at a new local store.

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Whole Dungeness crab.

If you have never picked a crab before, here are Alton’s instructions:

  1. Flip the crab upside down.
  2. Use a screwdriver to pry off the apron.
  3. Holding the crab over a sink, pry off the back of the crab.
  4. Rinse the inside of the crab.
  5. Pull off any gray gills, discarding them.
  6. Twist off the legs.
  7. Break the remaining central core in half and pull out as much meat as you can from the tiny compartments.
  8. Crack each leg and scoop out the meat.

My crabs had already been prepped through step 5, so I just had to get the meat out.

Once you have your crab meat, it is time to make the marinade for the salad. Combine in a large Ziplock bag:  1 C olive oil, 1 C red wine vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1/4 C fresh tarragon, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Use an immersion blender to thoroughly emulsify the marinade. Add your crab meat to the marinade, pushing any excess air out of the bag. Refrigerate the crab for 4-8 hours.

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Marinade and crab in plastic bag.

Serve the crab mixture over mixed greens with lemon wedges.

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Marinated crab salad, served over greens.

This was a light summer entrée that we enjoyed on our deck. While tasty, I did feel that the delicate flavor of the crab was a little overpowered by the marinade. To me, crab is so good on its own (see the crab leg recipe above) that I would tend toward recipes that allow the crab to shine more.

Crab Fritters

Crab fritters were Alton’s last recipe in this episode, and he did use purchased crabmeat for this one. In the episode, he used a 50/50 combination of lump and special crabmeat. Since I was only feeding two of us, I used one 8-ounce container of jumbo crabmeat.

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8 ounces of crab meat.

To begin, place a rack on a sheet pan for draining and heat 2 1/2 quarts of canola oil to 375 degrees over medium heat.

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Canola oil, heating to 375.

Meanwhile, combine 1 C lump crab meat, 1 C special crab meat, 1/2 C mayo, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 t pepper.

Scoop the crab mixture with a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, rolling the balls in Panko breadcrumbs.

Alton tells you to fry the balls for 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden, but I found that my fritters were done in 3-4 minutes.

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Fritters, added to hot oil.

I served my fritters with lemon wedges.

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Crab fritters.

Alton’s crab fritters were pretty darn delicious, as they had little “filler” and loads of crab. The Panko breadcrumbs gave a crispy, crunchy shell to the creamy crab/mayo filling. These are a definite great alternative to the classic crab cake.

Braciole

When I married into Ted’s family I became privy to his family’s spaghetti recipe, a meal that epitomizes “comfort food.” Their family recipe is for a rich red sauce, flavored with meat and spices, that is served over spaghetti. Included in the red sauce are bracioles, which are miniature rolls of seasoned meat that become incredibly tender as they simmer in the red sauce. When I saw that the final Good Eats episode of the sixth season would involve making a braciole, I was incredibly curious to see how Alton’s version would compare with Ted’s family’s recipe.

For his braciole, Alton recommends using flank steak, purchasing the thinnest one you can find.

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Flank steak.

Laying the steak on a counter, spritz its surface with water and cover it with plastic wrap. Spritz the surface of the plastic wrap with water also; the water will allow the meat tenderizer to slide as it hits the meat. Using a meat tenderizer (Alton recommends one with a large, flat surface), pound the steak until it is thin.

Next, it is time to make the braciole filling by combining in a food processor 1 clove of garlic, 1 T chopped parsley, 1 T chopped fresh oregano, 1 t chopped rosemary, 1 t chopped thyme, 1/3 C grated Parmesan, 1 1/4 C flavored croutons, and 2 eggs.

Using a spatula (I found that my hands worked better), spread the filling over the surface of the flank steak, with the wide edge of the steak facing you. Do not go all the way to the edge of the meat, or the roll will not seal well.

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Flank steak topped with braciole filling.

Roll the meat toward you until you have a nice log, and turn the meat 90 degrees, so it is perpendicular to you.

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Flank steak rolled into a log.

Running cotton butcher’s twine under the far end of the meat, tie a surgeon’s knot near the top of the log by passing the string twice under itself, followed by two more passes the other direction. Be sure to leave at least eight inches of excess twine on the loose end.

Working toward you, twist the twine to form a large loop and wiggle it up the meat.

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A loop formed by twisting the twine and wiggling the loop up the meat.

Continue forming loops, sliding them up the meat until you have a ladder of twine running up the length of the meat.

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Continuous loops formed and wiggled up the meat to form a network of loops.

Flip the log over and bring the twine to the top of the log, crossing it once under the center loop of twine.

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The meat, flipped to its back side. Bringing the string up to the top, crossing it once under the center loop.

Bringing the two ends of twine together, cross them on the back side of the log and flip the meat back to its front, tying another surgeon’s knot and a slip knot to secure. Let the meat sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. When ready to cook, coat the surface of the meat with canola or peanut oil and a sprinkle of Kosher salt.

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A surgeon’s knot tied on the front of the meat, bringing both ends of the twine together to secure. The meat is oiled and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Heat a cast iron skillet (I used a large non-stick skillet because we have a glass cook top) on the stove until it is hot enough to sear the meat, and sear the meat on all sides until browned. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, placing a 9×13″ pan inside with 3 C of tomato sauce (I used the Good Eats tomato sauce here).

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Three cups of tomato sauce to be heated in the oven.

Once the braciole is seared on all sides, place it in the hot tomato sauce, spooning the sauce over the meat.

Tenting the pan with foil, return it to the oven for at least 45 minutes. Alton says you really can cook this all day, if you choose, but my braciole seemed to be perfect after about two hours.

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Pan tented with foil and placed in the oven.

Slice the braciole and serve it over the tomato sauce.

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Alton’s finished braciole with tomato sauce.

I was happy with how this braciole turned out, though it was a bit different from the ones I am used to. Ted and I both really liked the flavor of the filling and how it paired with the meat, but I think it would have been even better if my steak had been thinner. This was really very easy to prepare and it makes for a nice presentation on the plate.

Fish Roll with Compound Butter

In addition to rolling meat, Alton used this episode to show that you can also make a seafood roll. For this seafood roll, you will need three types of seafood:  salmon fillets, flounder fillets, and sea scallops. Depending on where you live, you may need to do some substituting. I could not find flounder where I live, so I had to substitute sole. You will also want to get the thinnest fish fillets you can find. Note that Alton’s recipe makes quite a large roll, so you also may want to modify this if you are only serving a few people because leftover fish=yuck! I was only making this roll for two of us, so I downsized by cutting my fillets. To begin, place a sheet of parchment on your counter, topped with plastic wrap. For the full-sized roll, lay two salmon fillets on the plastic wrap, nearest you, with their tails away from you, and so they are slightly overlapping each other. Next, place three flounder fillets on top of the salmon with their tails facing toward you. The flounder fillets should overlap the salmon about midway.

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Salmon fillet with tail facing away. Sole fillet placed on top with tail facing toward me.

Place a metal skewer through eight sea scallops, being sure to go through their flat sides. Place this skewer at the far end of the flounder fillets. Season all of the fish with Kosher salt, pepper, fresh dill, and fresh parsley.

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Skewered scallops placed on far end of flounder. Fish seasoned with Kosher salt, pepper, fresh dill, and fresh parsley.

Grab the far end of the plastic and roll toward you keeping the skewer in the center of the roll, and avoiding rolling the plastic wrap into the fish roll.

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Pulling the plastic toward me to roll the fish around the scallops.

Once your fish is starting to roll, place the edge of a sheet pan against the fish (on top of the plastic), pressing with the pan as you pull the plastic toward you.

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Using the edge of a sheet pan to press on on the fish roll as I pull the plastic toward me.

Once your roll is complete, you should be able to just slip the plastic off, leaving the roll on the parchment.

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Fish after rolling.

Next, rolling away from you, roll the fish in the parchment, twisting the ends. Refrigerate the fish roll for two hours.

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Plastic removed and fish rolled in parchment. Into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Once your fish roll has chilled, preheat your broiler and remove the skewer from the fish roll, keeping the fish rolled in parchment. Use a serrated knife to slice the roll into 3/4-1″ rounds. Place the rounds on a sprayed broiler pan and remove their parchment. Brush the fish rounds with canola oil and sprinkle them with Kosher salt.

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Sliced fish roll brushed with canola oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Broil the fish six inches from the heat, checking after three minutes. Alton served his fish with herb butter, which he did not make in the show. I threw an herb butter together by mixing softened butter with the leftover dill and parsley from the fish roll, along with lemon zest and pepper.

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Broiled fish roll served with herb butter.

We thought this fish roll was great. The salmon, white fish, and scallops went very well together and the roll was really pretty. Herb butter is a great accompaniment to the seafood here too. Unfortunately, my fish roll got cold when I realized there was a fire behind our house, so I will have to make this again on a less stressful evening! This is a great recipe to make for an impressive presentation that takes very little effort.

Ah, butter, I have loved thee for as long as I can remember. Conversely, as a kid, my brother refused to eat butter, and would only eat margarine. Nuts, I know. I seem to remember something about him being disgusted by the fact that butter was animal-based fat. I think it is safe to say that the anti-butter trait is not genetic, as I saw my niece lick a stick of butter with pure delight last week when she was visiting. Thank goodness because butter certainly belongs on the list of “good eats.”

Raymond Beurre Blanc

Monday evening seemed like a good time to have the first recipe from this episode, which was for Alton’s beurre blanc. I have had beurre blancs in the past, but always in a restaurant.

Beurre blanc ingredients:  shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

Beurre blanc ingredients: shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

To make Alton’s sauce, add a couple of small chopped shallots to a pan, along with 8 oz. of white wine and 2 oz. of lemon juice.

Chopped shallots.

Chopped shallots.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Lemon juice added.

Lemon juice added.

Increase the heat to high, and reduce this liquid “au sec,” or until almost dry; you will have about 2 T remaining.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Beginning to reduce.

Beginning to reduce.

After a few minutes.

After a few minutes.

Reduced "au sec."

Reduced “au sec.”

Add 1 T of heavy cream to the pan, and decrease the heat to low as soon as the cream starts to bubble. The cream, as Alton says, is your “emulsion insurance.”

Cream added to pan for "emulsion insurance."

Cream added to pan for “emulsion insurance.”

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Next, you will need 6 oz. of cold, unsalted butter, which you will want to cut into tablespoon-sized chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

You will add the butter chunks one at a time, first on the heat, and then off of the heat, until incorporated. If the sauce gets above 130 degrees, the membranes around the fat globules will collapse, so you do not want the sauce to get too hot.

First chunk of butter being added.

First chunk of butter being added.

Stirring the butter first on the heat...

Stirring the butter first on the heat…

...and then off of the heat.

…and then off of the heat.

To scale the sauce up or down, Alton explains that you want to use about a stick of butter per tablespoon of reduction. Once all of the butter has been added, season the sauce with Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste. You can serve the sauce as is, or you can strain it for a perfectly smooth sauce.

The finished beurre blanc.

The finished beurre blanc.

Since the beurre blanc will not hold well, you will want to serve it immediately or store it in a thermos for later use. We had the beurre blanc over steaks and asparagus for dinner, and it paired greatly with both.

Alton's beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

Alton’s beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

As someone who prefers to have some sort of sauce with steak, I really enjoyed this. I loved the slight sourness of the sauce, as it contrasted nicely with the richness from the butter. I will be making this one again for sure, as it would also be great over poached eggs or fish. This is a simple way to dress dinner up.

Compound Butter

Next up in Alton’s butter arsenal is a recipe for compound butter. I remember having compound butter at some restaurant when I was little, with my mom explaining to me that there were endless possibilities for flavor combinations you could achieve. Alton’s version is pretty straight forward.

Ingredients for compound butter:  olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

Ingredients for compound butter: olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and set it aside. Salted butter is used here because it has a longer shelf-life; the salt in the butter helps to prevent oxidation. This is why unsalted butter is typically wrapped in foil, while salted butter is not.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Next, pour 3-4 T of olive oil into your food processor, add 2 T of chopped chives, and chop.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

To this, add 3 T of mixed herbs; Alton likes a tablespoon each of sage, thyme, and rosemary. Process this herb mixture until the oil is green.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, starting on low and increasing the speed to high. The butter should be fluffy in 5-7 minutes.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add the oil to the butter and mix until incorporated evenly.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Spoon the butter onto the end of a sheet of parchment, and pull the far end of the parchment over the butter.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Place the edge of a sheet pan against the butter (on top of the paper), hold the bottom piece of paper, and press the butter into a log shape. Roll up the ends of the parchment, secure with rubber bands, and chill the butter until firm.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Slice the butter and serve as a sauce for meat, chicken, fish, bread, vegetables, or anything else you can think of. I first tried the butter this morning on half a bagel, and I could smell the fresh herbs as soon as I unrolled the parchment.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter on a bagel.

Compound butter on a bagel.

I liked this particular combination of herbs because none of the herbs overwhelmed the others. The butter looks really pretty and is super flavorful, so it would be a great thing to serve to guests. I look forward to trying this as a simple sauce for many things in the coming weeks.

Honey Butter

For a sweet finish to the episode, Alton makes honey butter. This recipe is really similar to the compound butter recipe.

Ingredients for honey butter:  salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

Ingredients for honey butter: salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into chunks and beat it with the whisk attachment of your mixer until fluffy.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add 1/4 C honey, 1/2 t cinnamon, and 1/2 t vanilla extract. Mix until evenly distributed.

Honey.

Honey.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Put the butter on parchment, use a sheet pan to push the butter into a log, and roll up the ends.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

Honey butter log.

Honey butter log.

Chill the butter until firm, and slice to serve. Again, to first try this butter, I had it on half a bagel.

Sliced honey butter.

Sliced honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

Honey butter on a bagel.

Honey butter on a bagel.

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of sweetness in the butter, as I was concerned it would be cloyingly sweet, but it was not. The flavor of the honey definitely came through, as did the vanilla and the cinnamon, but nothing was overpowering. This would be great on pancakes or waffles, and I think I will be trying that this weekend… with Alton’s pancake mix, of course!