ON its own or in combination with other herbs and aromatics, butter just gives any dish instant richness. The most common and my most used combination is butter, garlic and parsley. While this foolproof combination may seem cliché, the fact that it is generally well received and never fails makes it my go-to flavor combination. Whether it is used to sauté, as a spread for bread, added after cooking to top or coat a dish, or melted and spooned over meat or seafood, butter, garlic and parsley just never fails. I always spoon some melted garlic parsley butter over some large cockles.
Another classic combination is browned butter and sage. This takes butter to another level by browning the milk in butter just before it burns and turns bitter. Browned butter, when done correctly, should taste nutty and mildly salty. The addition of fresh sage adds an herby, earthy and minty aroma to the already nutty and toasted scent of the browned butter. This combination goes well with pork but is equally good with mild-flavored seafood like scallops. My scallop recipe is a simple sear with browned butter and fresh sage.
Butter can also be used to baste, adding moisture to otherwise lean meats and seafood. I used butter to baste the lamb steak on the plate and, aside from giving flavor and moisture, seared meat also benefits from the browning that butter provides. If you’ve ever struggled with gray-looking steaks, a little butter would help in achieving that brown crust that looks more appetizing.
For even more richness, you may also use butter to poach fish or lean meats. Being slowly cooked in melted butter can never be bad for whatever meat or seafood you’re poaching. The butter-poached salmon I did benefited from the gentle heat and mildly salty flavor butter gives.
On its own, butter is already one of the best things you can ever eat. Spread over toasted bread, mixed with rice or melted over vegetables, butter just does wonders. There is a reason why we’ve probably used butter more than any other ingredient in both savory and sweet applications in our 18 years at COOK—butter just makes everything better.