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Top Pick Of The Week

February 28, 2006

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Goat Butter
We sprinkled sweet goat butter with alae, red volcanic sea salt from Hawaii (click here to learn more about it). We also sprinkled salmon caviar, tobiko, snipped chives, fresh chopped basil, olives and capers for simply spectacular canapes. Meyenberg Goat Milk Butter is one of our favorite specialty foods—it’s so versatile, we eat it at every meal—and guests are thrilled to discover it! Photo by Melody Lan.

Meyenberg Goat Butter:
Get Your Goat

Today’s NIBBLE will get you to look at butter not as a dairy commodity, but as a specialty food as individual and exciting as every other product we write about. There was a point in life where we may have thought no further about wine than “red” or “white”; a time when a decision about a chocolate bar was simply “with nuts” or “without nuts”, and butter was “salted” or “unsalted.” Today’s gourmet butters are so exquisite that they demand as much attention as fine cheeses. In fact, we purchased our first bar of Meyenberg Goat Milk Butter last July, after it won one of four first-place awards given to butter at the American Cheese Society’s Annual Cheese Competition. For several months prior, we had eyed the large silver foil rectangle at Whole Foods, where we try a different artisanal butter every month; it had just never made it into our shopping cart. The minute we saw the list of award winners, we were off to purchase a bar, and we have not been without a bar and a spare since. We are simply maa-a-a-d about it.

Goat’s milk butter is a creamy ecru in color, lacking the yellow cast of cow’s milk butter; but the textures are identical, and they cook and spread virtually identically. The principal way in which goat butter differs from cow butter is in the very subtle chèvre flavor on the palate. If you’re a goat cheese lover, you’ll think you’ve hit the jackpot. The butter becomes almost an extension of the cheese plate: Each time you take a bite of the butter, you get a subtle reminder of the cheese. If you’ve never been a fan of goat cheese because of the strong tang some types have, here’s your chance to understand what goat cheese-lovers rave about. The flavor exists in the most understated way in the butter: it’s something just a little different, but a lot special.

That’s why Meyenberg Goat Milk Butter has become the everyday butter at THE NIBBLE™ offices, as well as for our home use. We use Cabot Unsalted Butter (which won the first place award in the Unsalted Butter Made From Cow’s Milk category, at the same competition) as our cooking and baking butter; we use D’Artagnan Black Truffle Butter as our sybaritic butter for truffling up everything from scrambled eggs to roast chicken. But from breakfast toast to everyday baked potatoes to simply buttering a crusty piece of French or Italian bread, the special lilt of flavor in the butter provided by those wonderful goats* can’t be beat. It’s also a boon to the lactose-intolerant: Goat’s milk is often well-tolerated by those who have difficulty digesting cow’s milk products.

*The Meyenberg herd, in northern California, includes the standard dairy breeds: Alpine, La Mancha, Nubian, Saanen and Toggenburg. The herds are free of antibiotics and Bovine Growth Hormones (rBGH/BST). Click here to see the different goat breeds.

There are as many ways to use goat butter as cow butter: it makes a spectacular fudge and you can have that recipe along with one for one of our favorite comfort foods, macaroni and cheese. But just for starters, think of:

Basic Breads & Breakfast Foods

  • Bread and Toast: Add excitement to everyday breads, from plain toast, whole wheat and seven-grain bread and baguettes to bagels and rolls.
  • Artisan Breads: Make luscious breads even more so by buttering up ciabatta, olive bread, walnut bread, semolina bread and other artisanal specialties.
  • Scones and Muffins: Make them even more special with some delicate goat goodness.
  • Eggs: Cook eggs in goat butter for added nuances of flavor.
  • Cereal: Taste the delightful difference with a pat swirled into grits or other hot cereal.
  • Pancakes and Waffles: Add a dab instead of cow’s milk butter. The subtle savory note is so interesting that we now prefer to eat our pancakes buttered, without syrup.

Sandwiches, Snacks & Cocktails

  • Sandwiches: Transform simple sandwiches— add panache to tomato and watercress, grilled vegetables, Serrano or Parma ham (prosciutto), or smoked salmon.
  • Popcorn: Make a batch of buttered popcorn more special with goat butter.
  • Tea: Scones, muffins, tea sandwiches get a refreshing new point-of-view with goat butter.
  • Canapés: Spread a round of bread with goat butter instead of mayonnaise, and add the topping of your choice—anything from roe or marinated vegetables to a thin slice of meat or seafood (scallop, smoked salmon, crab, lobster, shrimp, seared tuna).

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Mains & Sides

  • Soup: Serve the soup course with slices of baguette—fresh or toasted—buttered and drizzled with sea salt.
  • Vegetables: Add a distinct difference to vegetables, rice and potatoes (a pat in a baked potato is sublime—snip on some fresh chives, too). And don’t forget corn on the cob.
  • Filet Mignon or Steak: If you normally like a pat of butter on the top, go goat.
  • Seafood: Try melted goat butter with lobster and crab legs for real flavor.
  • Chicken: Tuck bits under the skin of chicken prior to roasting, along with fresh rosemary.
  • Bread: Serve goat butter with the bread basket, of course!

 

Pancakes
On pancakes
Canape
For canapés

Sandwich
On sandwiches
Artisan Bread
On artisanal breads


Butter Tips

Whether cow, goat or other provenance, butter is one of the most delicate foods in the refrigerator: it easily picks up flavors and odors. You can do a lot to keep your butter fresh.

How should butter be stored?

  • Contrary to what refrigerator designers lead us to believe, butter should not be left unwrapped in the butter tray on the refrigerator door. It should be kept in its original wrapper and container, and stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, i.e. the meat and vegetable drawers at the bottom. (While extra butter can be stored there, this is not the most convenient solution for an item many people use frequently.)
  • If you prefer to keep the open bar in the butter tray, wrap it tightly in the paper or foil it came in. We use an extra layer of plastic wrap. For the freshest flavor, we advise not stocking up, but buying butter more frequently.
  • Do not store butter near foods with strong odors, such as onions or garlic. Further protect those bars that are not in immediate use by putting them in heavy-duty plastic storage bags and keeping them in their original cartons.
  • Salt acts as a preservative: salted butter can be refrigerated for up to a month. Unsalted butter should be used within two weeks.
  • Butter can be frozen for up to six months. To protect it from absorbing flavors and odors in the freezer, place the original carton in double plastic freezer bags.


Can salted and unsalted butter be used interchangeably?

The only difference between the two butters is that one has salt added and one does not: it’s a personal taste preference.

  • Generally in savory dishes, you can use salted or unsalted butter interchangeably because salt is added to the recipe to taste. In sweet baked goods, salted butter should not be substituted because the sweet flavor of unsalted butter should shine through.
  • When one or the other is specified in a recipe, it is because the recipe was developed with it and the amount of salt has been adjusted accordingly. If you enjoy the added salt in salted butter, you generally won’t notice the added amount of salt in the recipe.


What is the best way to soften butter?

Soften butter for baking by removing it from the refrigerator and letting it stand for 30 to 45 minutes at room temperature.

  • To soften butter quickly, cut it into 1-inch chunks and allow it to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. If you need it even faster than that, place the chunks between sheets of wax paper and smash them with a rolling pin, flipping the wax paper so that you smash each side.
  • While you can melt butter in the microwave for cooking, it is not recommended for baking: it alters the physical properties of the butter so it adheres differently to the flour, and won’t achieve the same texture.
  • To soften butter in the microwave for non-baking purposes, select the defrost setting (30% power). Check sticks of butter every 5 seconds so that they do not over-soften or melt completely: the butter can quickly melt even when watched carefully.

butter dishIf you want to keep butter softened for ease of use, you can keep it at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. The flavor and color may be affected, but it is safe to use. You can store butter in any covered dish, but many are made specifically for butter. We’ve included a selection of traditional butter dishes below but wanted to call out this hand-painted ceramic butter dish by Tracy Porter: in an Asian-inspired motif, a peacock sits atop a bamboo cage, protecting your butter. It’s functional art, and it’s just $33.00! Click here for more information.

Meyenberg Goat Milk Butter is very lightly salted—with such a delicate touch that even we, who have never used salted butter, love it. Or perhaps, it’s just the magic that this product casts: often, we forget that it’s butter and start to eat it as if were cheese.

The wonderful thing about specialty foods, the focus of THE NIBBLE™, is that most of them are part of our everyday lives: they’re our preserves, our pasta, our cookies, our butter. Sure, we enjoy caviar and chocolate truffles on special occasions; but for the most part, all it takes is awareness that these wonderful products exist so we can enjoy the best of everything, everyday. And that’s hardly a baa-a-a-d thing.

—Karen Hochman

MEYENBERG GOAT MILK BUTTER

Lightly Salted Butter

Certified Kosher (Dairy) by The Vaad Hakashrus of Denver

  • 8-Ounce Package
    $7.00

Purchase online at Meyenberg.com

Available at Whole Foods Markets, Wild Oats and many other fine supermarkets and specialty retailers.

Butter and Scone

 

Related Articles in THE NIBBLE™ Online Magazine  

About Butter

About Goat’s Milk Products

 

 

Read Up

Toast Making Cheese Home Cheesemaking
Toast: 60 Ways to Butter Your Bread and Then Some, by Jesse Z. Cool. More than 60 easy recipes take toasted bread and turn it into a base for delicious appetizers, snacks, sandwiches, main courses and desserts. Toast is a clever way to make tasty meals at any time of day. Click here for more information. Making Cheese, Butter & Yogurt, by Ricki Carroll. A guide on how to do it yourself. This is an introductory brochure to see if you have the time and the inclination to begin a new hobby. Click here for more information. Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses, by Ricki Carroll. Here are 85 recipes for cheeses and other dairy products that only require basic techniques to create farmhouse cheddar, gouda, fromage blanc, queso blanco, mascarpone, ricotta and 30-minute mozzarella.Click here for more information.

 

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