We stopped into Willow Rest in Gloucester today for some local veggies and whatever else might catch our fancy, since I’m often inspired by the fanciness we find there. Fanciness caught. We found buffalo butter! Not from Buffalo, New York, but from an Italian buffalo. Or Bufalo. I found it quite bufal, myself, in fact. Spying some of Willow’s fantastic ribeyes, it occurred to me that the buffalo butter was begging, to be turned into a compound butter and melted over a steak. Positively begging.
Compound butter is pretty much just butter that has been mixed with herbs and other seasonings and chilled. Served over steaks, a well-seasoned compound butter adds richness and complexity. I thought of the basil in our garden and wondered whether a buffalo butter combined with basil might be reminiscent of that classic summer pair of mozzarella and basil – mozzarella being made from buffalo milk. Well, correct as usual, King Friday. The buffalo butter had an aromatic finish, similar to blue cheese, and the basil offered its sweet sharpness.
Make the steaks however you’d like. I like to salt them and let them sit out on the counter for about 20 minutes or so for the salt to do its salt thing. Pan-sear them on either side in a little bacon fat until medium, remove from the heat and let them rest for about 10 minutes.
The salt I used in both the compound butter and to salt the steak, by the way, was Sel Gris or French gray salt, in honor of Julia Child’s 100th birthday. In fact this whole dish is a bit Julia, oui?
Basil Compound Buffalo Butter – makes 6 servings
1 T basil, finely chopped
1/4 t salt
1/2 C buffalo butter (or just plain ol’ cow butter)
Combine the finely chopped basil, salt and butter by mashing together in a bowl with a fork until smooth.
Scoop the butter mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, roll the butter into a log. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least one hour until firm.
When ready to use, remove from the plastic wrap. Slice off 1/4 – 1/2 inch rounds and serve over steak as needed. Because you need butter.
Ingredient origins: Basil – my own backyard; salt – France; Butter – Italy