‘I can’t believe’ people are making butter boards
By Kara Kimbrough
You’ve undoubtedly seen the bright yellow container in the supermarket dairy case with the name, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” After seeing countless online videos and posts on the latest charcuterie board trend, let me just say…“I can’t believe it IS butter!” Turns out, some charcuterie board aficionados have tired of creatively arranging boards with slices of cheese, crackers and smoked meats formed into cutesy roses and other shapes. Now, they’ve begun slathering boards with butter. I shudder to think what cardiologists and nutritionists think of this risky trend. And trust me when I say, a butter board is not something I’ll ever serve to anyone, even the most trendy guest.
I don’t mean to imply butter boarders are not leaving the high-fat spread unadorned. They’re adding slightly-healthier toppings like roasted garlic and chopped vegetables and seasonings that include the also-trendy “Everything But The Bagel” seasoning, which can be found in most supermarkets. But underneath all the good stuff still remains a hefty layer of plain ‘ol butter. I still don’t understand it, especially when much tastier choices are available.
All this talk about butter reminded me of a lesson on the merits of butter versus margarine by a hospital executive chef. He despised margarine and loved real butter, but unfortunately, overseeing meals for patients and directly preparing food for physicians who were present in the hospital for one purpose – to heal the sick –required him to cut back on an otherwise-liberal use of butter.
Choices were limited, but he did approve the use of Healthy Choice Buttery Spread. The product includes Omega-3 and claims to support the “healthy” cholesterol. I’ve never forgotten his advice and use the product to this day. (Please check with your own physician).
Even though Healthy Choice is my spread of choice, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to spread it liberally over a board and serve it to guests.
Instead, why not make a cream cheese board? I’ll admit, cream cheese is probably not a substantially healthier choice, but in my opinion, it’s a much more aesthetically-pleasing and tastier option than butter. Topped with chopped tomatoes, green olives, seasonings, grated cheese, sliced meats and sliced bagels or crackers for dipping, it’s the perfect charcuterie board.
But back to butter boards. I found there’s quite a long list of dishes with butter in the name. Examples are butter chicken, buttermilk pie, gooey butter cake, butter cookies, butter pecan frosting and butterscotch pudding…to name just a few.
This almost never happens, but I actually had a container of buttermilk in my refrigerator, leftover from baking buttermilk cornbread - another butter dish. I toyed with the idea of making butter chicken, but decided the influx of curry and other spices in the India-inspired dish may not be to my liking.
Soaking chicken pieces in a buttermilk marinade with other spices before coating in bread crumbs and baking in the oven was another option. Butter milk makes chicken moist and tender, but I wasn’t in the mood for a chicken dinner.
Instead, I used the leftover buttermilk to make a simple pie, similar to the one my grandmother used to make. It comes together very quickly and bakes into a crunchy, delicious pie. And most importantly, I feel much better about using a butter-based product than I did after learning of the newest charcuterie craze.
Not a Butter Board, But Buttermilk Pie
9-inch unbaked pie crust
3 large eggs
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a pie plate with unbaked pie crust. Beat eggs in a bowl until foamy, then beat in butter, sugar and flour until fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix together until smooth.
Pour into crust and bake for 45-50 minutes until inserted knife comes out clean. Let cool before cutting.
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.