The secret ingredient to bold, rich flavors, awaits me on the kitchen counter. It’s good quality butter in the pretty handmade butter crock. I keep it within reach to slather onto roast potatoes, toss with pasta, swirl into rice, slather onto steamed veggies, dot over broiled fish, and grilled chicken. At room temp because it has the most flavor and creamiest body and it’s also the easiest to cream with sugar for cakes and cookie batters. Lately I’ve been smearing it on to boards – inspired by charcuterie and cheese boards – a simple and creative way to entertain.
When it comes to storing butter, a dairy product, you want to use some care so that it retains its taste and doesn’t pick up off flavors. Salt acts as a preservative and keeps it stable and the most important thing is to keep the butter covered.
My grandmother kept a butter crock right near her cutting board. I use one like hers – a small pot that is immersed in cold water that creates an airtight seal. The butter stays soft and spreadable and is held at a steady temperature. In the summer, if the kitchen hovers above 70 degrees, I’ll add a few ice cubes to the water to keep the butter from melting into a puddle. Holding it this way, the butter will stay fresh and spreadable for about two weeks, silky and rich and ready to spread. It’s best to use a heavy pottery crock that retains an even temperature. I don’t have a lot of room in my small kitchen and I hate clutter, so my crock hand thrown -hand painted and so pretty it doubles as a serving piece.