Q: Chef, everyone is eating healthier lately and worrying so much about what they eat. I love the taste of butter, but—like everyone else—I need to cut down. What is a good way to satisfy both my craving for butter and still abide by my resolve to eat healthier?
A: Well, I, too, love butter. Keep in mind that some fats are good for you. Here is what I do at home (and there are a few ways to change this simple sauce): A beurre blanc (French for white butter) usually is made with vinegar or wine, a little shallot and butter. This sauce not only adds flavor to any dish, but also gives it a light and delicate texture that will make you close your eyes with every bite.
Beurre blanc is like a roux—it can be white, hazelnut brown or rich dark brown. As you cook the milk fats, you allow the nuttiness of the butter to come out for a heartier flavor.
If, like me, you are trying to reduce your fat content, this is a good way to get that buttery flavor, and cut down on calorie and fat intake. A teaspoon of butter is more than 51 calories, while a teaspoon of beurre blanc sauce is just approximately 33 calories. Here is a simple recipe:
BEURRE BLANC SAUCE
6 black peppercorns
1 c white wine
1/3 c lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
½ T heavy cream
½ stick cold butter, diced in 1-inch pieces
Begin by preheating a sauté pan. Add peppercorns, and toast until you begin to release the oils in the peppercorns and smell the aroma of fresh pepper. Add shallots, and continue to cook, ‘sweating down’ the shallot. Deglaze with lemon juice and white wine, and cook down until almost dry. Reduce heat. Add heavy cream. Slowly melt in the butter, one piece at a time. As the butter begins to emulsify, you may add two pieces of butter at a time. If sauce begins to get thick, add a few drops of cold water.
Remember, once you make the sauce, you must keep it warm at approximately 136 degrees to prevent it from ‘breaking.’ You can add different flavoring to the sauce to create many variations out of the same recipe.
Try some of these:
Red wine for a sauce that will complement beef
Mustard for a sauce that will complement pork
You can add shrimp or lobster, and serve with pasta
Add citrus (lemon or lime juice), and serve over asparagus
Add brandy and crushed peppercorn to serve with steak
And, for dessert, add pineapple and bourbon, and serve over a warm gooey butter cake
Chef John Johnson is executive chef at River City Casino. For questions or recipe requests, email him at John.Johnson@rivercity.com.