Recently, I had the great pleasure of dining at an event where Rene Redzepi, the famed chef of Noma in Copenhagen, not only made the rounds singing books (he is an exceptionally nice man and a proud father), but helped with dinner. The dinner was delicious with more than a few memorable dishes, but the one which sticks out the most, oddly, was a simple roll with homemade butter. Something about a warm, yeasted roll slathered with delicious, salty butter raised that simple small plate above some of the more complicated dishes.
When I got home late that night, I had it in my head how I would make butter at home. It was going to happen and when I returned home from work the next night, my older daughter explained how, as part of her preparation for their Thanksgiving feast, she had already made butter at school with a jar and a marble. She, at the age of four, was ahead of me in making butter and I could not have been more proud.
The next day, I found a recent recipe in the New York Times for cultured butter. I, then, picked up a quart of heavy cream and started the two day culturing period (I bumped the time from 18-24 to 48 hours for the extra oomph). Finally, the soured and thickened cream was spun through the food processor until the butter solids separated from the butter milk.
Then, the mixture was strained and pressed. Finally the butter was “washed” with ice water until the run-off runs clear. This was the hardest part of making the butter (think making pasta by hard, but way more room for error). At this point, I salted the butter with smoked maldon salt and divided them into bricks. With 3/4 pound homemade butter and 3 cups of fresh buttermilk, few things sound better than scalding hot cornbread melting that butter the old-fashioned way.
The butter, while certainly not Redzepi-level, was better than anything I had picked up at the store even consider I was less than a novice, and at a fraction of the price of good butter, without even considering the buttermilk supplement. The butter was complex and slightly sour with a quality best described as almost sweetgrass-like. Despite adding a good bit of salt, the butter was not salty, but the smoke added a nice savory quality to the butter. The cornbread was a nice, little full circle bite of cultured butter including its buttermilk.