The revenge of butter: don't abuse it and try it with herbs

Recently, the weekly magazine Time published a huge, voluptuous curl of butter on the cover, with an invitation to eat it. But how? Wasn't it the food that, with its 82% fat, blocked the arteries and caused the heart to go haywire? Counterorder: American researchers have come to the conclusion that the real killer is not the fat, but the excess sugar»Explains the doctor Giovanna Corona, a nutrition biologist in Rome.

«Demonized for decades, not only in the US, butter he is undergoing a rehabilitation process, always with the recommendation not to overdo the doses ». And some beliefs are also being revised such as, for example, the one that should be eaten raw: a French study by the LaSalle-Beauvai Polytechnic Institute has shown that cooking, even at high temperatures, forms low percentages of toxic compounds, even lower than those found in coffee or roasted cereals.

That "extra touch"
Rehabilitated by nutritionists, butter is like that once again the protagonist in the recipes of many starred chefs, who appreciate its ability to enhance the flavor of food. In particular, the use of butters is increasingly widespread flavored, which have become dozens and dozens, with no limits to creativity.

The famous chef Jamie Oliver, for example, has racked up tens of thousands of YouTube views with the herbal butter recipe, in which fresh thyme is the protagonist along with a pinch of cumin and lemon, in a perfect mix for fish-based preparations.

But a version in which the butter melts to the Orient thanks to miso, the typical Japanese condiment obtained from fermentation of yellow soy: the famous Martha Stewart, the queen of American houses, highly recommends it to spread on slices of grilled aubergines or to flavor grilled meat.

Il lemon butter, on the other hand, with its taste apparently in strong contrast between sweetness and harshness, it is the secret touch of the starred chef Domenico Iavarone, which uses it as a sauce to dress spaghetti with sea truffles and tuna bottarga.

Perhaps the most curious of all is the fermented butter, widespread in Turkey and Morocco, where it is called "smen": it is a rancid butter, but at the right point. In fact, it undergoes a process that "breaks" only a small part of triglycerides to release a touch of butyric acid, the typical substance of some aged cheeses, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, with a subtle nutty aftertaste that goes very well with vegetables. .

These culinary suggestions made you come want to try it? Here are the "do it yourself" tips from the biologist chef Maria Paola Dall'Erta.


Burro alle erbe
Perfect to spread on croutons or to flavor fish dishes, it is very simple to make. Leave the butter at room temperature for a few hours. In the meantime, wash and dry your favorite fresh herbs (for example basil, parsley, thyme, fennel), then cut them into small pieces and, using a teaspoon, mix them with the softened butter. Then put the mixture in the parchment paper and shape a cylinder: so it will re-assemble perfectly once it is put back in the fridge.

Miso butter
Get 250g of your favorite butter and 75g of miso paste. If you want a sweet and sour twist, you can add 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix the ingredients at room temperature, then put in a bowl and allow to cool. Perfect on steamed vegetables and meat.

Lemon butter
Ideal for seasoning pasta, with vegetables or fish. Melt the butter in a pan: when it is completely liquid, add the lemon juice in a ratio of 1: 1 (example: 100 g of butter, 100 ml of juice).

Fermented butter
This butter is perfect for couscous or to get crispier fried meat and vegetables. Here's what you need: 1/2 kg of unsalted butter at room temperature, 120 ml of water, 1 tablespoon of coarse salt, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano leaves (or thyme). Boil the water with the oregano until it reduces by half (this will take about 20 minutes). Pour this “oregano tea” over the previously crushed butter with a colander, mix with a wooden spoon and let it cool. Then sift again the water that is left. Leave the mixture out of the fridge for one evening and the next day pat the mixture with a clean cotton cloth, then keep it still at room temperature in a covered bowl for 2 days. After that, spread it out on a cutting board and absorb the moisture with the house paper. Close everything in a large airtight container and let it rest for 3 weeks. It will be ready when the scent resembles that of gorgonzola, then it should be kept in the fridge.

Clarified or mounted
In the kitchen, chefs often use clarified butter, that is, from which the water has been removed. Ideal for sauces, creams and tart dough, it is available on the market ready-made, but it can also be easily made at home. Cut the butter into pieces and put it in a double boiler in a saucepan with a very thick bottom and very low heat. When it is melted, skim off the white foam that emerges, then take a colander lined with gauze and filter into a glass container. What you get is a clarified butter, which must rest in the fridge at least 2 hours. On the contrary, the whipped butter is enriched with carbonated water. In addition to favoring the perfect creaming of risottos, it is perfect on croutons because its soft texture will make it look like a cheese. You need 60 g of sparkling water for 150 g of butter: put it into small pieces in a container and use an electric whisk to "whip" it with the water, to be poured slowly. Refrigerate for an hour, then serve.

The right doses
Butter can be eaten every day, but it goes introduced into the diet with measure: «It is in fact highly caloric, so it is good to limit yourself to 10 g at most», recommends the doctor Giovanna Corona. «It is good as a condiment, but it can also be spread on bread with a veil of jam in the morning or as a snack. From a nutritional point of view, butter contains the precious vitamin D but also those A, E and K, which being fat-soluble in this food become bioavailable and therefore easily assimilated. However, we must remember that butter retains most of the properties of milk, therefore it is also rich in lactose: if you are intolerant, its intake is therefore definitely not recommended ".

There is also vegetable butter, but ...
Of peanuts, walnuts, almonds: they are called in turn "butters", but the name should be reserved for the product obtained from milk. "These others, used in particular in vegan cooking for sweet and savory recipes, are obtained from the fine grinding of the relative seeds", explains Dr. Corona. «They can also be useful for lactose intolerant, but it should be remembered that they are low in calcium, omega 3 and B vitamins, unless they are added ".

Always in the refrigerator
In the US, a debate on the possibility of storing butter even outside the refrigerator has even involved the authoritative Food and Drug Administration. In the end, the American experts concluded that it can also be kept in the cupboard, as long as the ambient temperature does not exceed 21 ° C.

Ma our food technologist Giorgio Donegani totally disagrees: «Keeping it out of the fridge greatly shortens the life of the butter, because it accelerates the oxidation mechanisms of the fats that make it rancid and bad tasting. To have it immediately ready to spread, I recommend taking a piece of it instead, put it in a waterproof bag and immerse it a few seconds in warm water».

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