Friday, July 22, 2011

Radish Butter

 When I studied abroad in France I could never understand the French proclivity for eating radishes with butter.  I just didn't get it.  Granted, at the time I thought radishes were pretty nasty, bitter, peppery little creatures.   My dad used to eat them at home with just a sprinkle of table salt, which I found equally baffling.  But over the past few years I have discovered that radishes aren't so bad.  And from time to time, they're actually quite good.  I would never order a plate of radishes and butter.  Gabrielle Hamilton serves radishes and butter at Prune (which I have briefly considered ordering because it is Prune after all) but I just don't like radishes that much.  With that said, this Radish Butter was one of the recipes that first drew my eye in The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern.  I have no idea why it drew my eye, but it looked so pretty in the picture and the recipe was so simple.  Plus I love how pretty the radishes are at the farmers' market.  I literally have to seriously restrain myself from buying them they are so pretty.  And I find that I have a need to try ingredients that I don't particularly like over and over again until I either decide I like them after all, or I finally admit defeat.  It's kind of like poking at a bruise (and yes, I do that too) - you keep poking at it and it keeps hurting, but somehow you expect a different result.

I think the key to this recipe is to use some really nice butter.  We picked up some butter from Ronnybrook Farm, which was delicious on its own and could only become better with the addition of radishes fresh from the CSA.  It was butter with a slight peppery kick and crunch.  Alex said it grew on him, but I thought it was pretty delicious from the start.  I thought that the butter really improved after we let it sit for 10-15 minutes while we fried up our Fried Green Tomatoes (more on those later).  The flavors really melded.  I think part of that was because our butter and radishes weren't exactly at room temperature when we mixed them together so as they sat they warmed up and the flavors intensified.  Yum.

Recipe after the jump!

Radish Butter
The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern
By Matt Lee and Ted Lee

1/2 lb round red radishes, trimmed, at room temperature (ours were actually purple)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, completely softened
1/4 tsp kosher salt or 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground white or black pepper
About 24 thinly sliced rye toast points, toasted slices of French bread, water crackers, 2-inch celery sticks, endive leaves, or romaine heart halves

Put the radishes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the radish is chopped into very fine dice, four or five 3-second pulses.  Transfer the contents to a length of cheesecloth or a double thickness of paper towels and wring out the excess liquid.  Transfer to a medium bowl and add 4 tablespoons of the butter.  With a rubber spatula, cream the radish and butter together, adding more butter 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together in a smooth, pliable mass.

Transfer the mixture to a 2-cup ramekin or bowl, sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top, and serve immediately. (The butter will keep, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Remove it from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving to let it soften. Sprinkle the salt and freshly ground pepper over the radish butter before serving).

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