Cultured Butter

In our kitchens, we try to make and produce as many products as we can. From our rooftop hives, to our cheese program, our herb garden, to our hams aged in our butcher shops. It is exciting for our cooks to work on these new projects, and it can be a great way for us to continue to learn about food, as well. There is always a lot of trial and error when we are starting a new project so it is a great way to keep the conversation about food interesting among our team.

We decided to experiment with house made cultured butter about 2 months ago. We were in the process of changing our bread accompaniments and I was reading an old cookbook and one of the recipes referenced that the sauce had to be finished with tangy butter. We were using a European style high butter fat butter and decided that a cultured butter would fit our food style and types of breads that we make. We purchased a few different butters and couldn’t find the flavor profile that we were looking for. We use a fermented cream mixture for one of our dishes on the dinner menu so we decided to make the butter so we could control how acidic we would make it. We wanted a butter that was going to have a small amount of salt to bring out the flavors of the cream and buttermilk while wanting to still also add finishing salt to the final product

We started the experiment with a 38% heavy cream and yogurt. We let it sit at 65 degrees for 24 hours then whipped it. The butter was a little tangier then we were looking so we changed the yogurt to buttermilk. The first few batches were good but needed some work. In developing the recipe we used various ratios of dairy, and various culture times. We ended using a PH meter to determine when the butter was at the proper taste profile that we were looking for.

 

Our process is as follows:

1 qt      40% heavy cream

¼ c       cultured buttermilk

1%       salt

Mix cream and buttermilk. Cover and store at 70 degrees for about 36 hours or until the cream mixture reaches a P.H of 4.75. Refrigerate the cream mixture until the mixture reaches 55 degrees.

Place the mixture in a chilled bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the cream mixture on high speed until the mixture separates.

Drain the butter reserving the buttermilk for another use (we make orange buttermilk panna cottas for breakfast)

In a strainer lined with cheesecloth, squeeze out all of the excess buttermilk. Continue to rinse the butter in 3 stages of clean ice-cold water.

Weigh the finished butter and add 1% salt. For our typical yield of 400g we would add 4g of salt

Bring the mixture to room temperature and whip in a stand mixture until silky and smooth. Spread the mixture into 1 ½ inch flexi pan puck molds. Refrigerate the butter. Once the butter is firm remove from the molds. Temper butter for 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt

 

 Home cook recipe

 1 qt     heavy whipping cream

 ¼ c       cultured buttermilk

 1 t        salt

Mix cream and buttermilk, cover and sit in a dark, cool area for 36 hours.

Refrigerate the mixture until well chilled.

Whip the mixture on high in a stand up mixer until the mixture separates. The butter will pull up into the center of the mixer.

Strain off the buttermilk and reserve for another use. Strain the butter in cheesecloth, and then squeeze out all the excess buttermilk. Knead the butter in ice-cold water, rinsing until the water runs clear. Knead in salt.

Remove the butter from the ice water and dry with paper towels.

Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate.

 

Butter

An Experiment Gone Right

Over the past few years, we have been working on number of projects in the kitchens that would better support the culinary traditions of the hotel. There has always been a tradition of craftsmanship but we wanted take better opportunity of the resources that the hotel has. Over the next few blog posts, I'm going to be discussing some of the cool projects we have started over the last few years ending with our latest and greatest project to date. Housemade cheese and I'm not just talking about ricotta!

Sixteenth Floor Herb Garden

About seven years ago, I inquired about taking over one of the flower pots on the 16th floor in our Executive Lounge. I was offered a corner of the balcony - plenty of space for four or five pots.  We started with a beautiful selection of summer herbs. Starting the herb garden had a few different purposes. First, and foremost, it was to give the restaurants an opportunity to use the freshest herbs possible. Cutting chives, basil, etc. minutes before they go on to the plate is sexy to me. It also helps tell the story of us using the highest quality, freshest ingredients. We had developed a relationship with a number of farmers which was going great there but why not do some portion of it ourselves?

The second reason for the herb garden was to create a culture that taught chefs to respect the food that they are working with. When the chefs are responsible for the watering, weeding and general maintenance of something, they tend to take better care of it and it also gives them a sense of pride.

The third reason was that the sixteenth floor rooftop has one of the greatest views of the city. A nearly 360 degree view from the terrace lets you see most of the city and surrounding area.  There's something calming about heading up there before dinner service begins and clipping herbs. Some days I just spend a couple more minutes up there reflecting on the day!

It’s been six years since we started the herb garden. We have repurposed a number of bourbon barrels (this will be discussed in a later blog post).  We currently have ten planters and produce about 90% of the summer’s herbs for the restaurant. We planted some specialty items to give us the opportunity to grow products that are difficult to find - green coriander seeds, dill flowers, etc.  When the summer is in full swing and you have more herbs then you know what to do with, I like to make this sauce. It's simple, fresh and goes great with grilled meats and eggs.  This sauce is better made a few hours in advance.

Chimichurri sauce

¼ c parsley, chopped

¼ c oregano, chopped

¼ c basil, chopped

¼ c thyme, chopped

½ ea diced shallot

2 T smoked paprika

1 c salad oil

3 t red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Oregano Hilton Herb Garden

Thyme Hilton herb Garden