Made for Each Other

Here are nine beloved butter pairings that we think bring the ingredient’s great taste to the fore.

By Emily Halpern

Published on February 12, 2008

1. Methodically eating a steamed artichoke, dunking one leaf after another in melted butter and then scraping away the tender flesh with our teeth, is one of our favorite ways to celebrate spring; the butter complements the vegetable's earthiness and tames its astringency.

2. Saucisson sec (or salami) and butter on a baguette, a bistro snack in France, is a revelatory combination for those unaccustomed to pairing butter with cured meat; the butter softens the meat's sharp flavors and adds another delicious dimension.

3. Take one bite of a French breakfast radish spread with butter and dipped in salt, and you'll be hooked. The butter's creaminess tempers the radish's peppery, astringent bite.

4. A steaming-hot baked acorn squash becomes a natural bowl for melted butter, which soaks into the squash's flesh. A sprinkle of brown sugar heightens the effect.

5. Sure, a drizzle of olive oil in your spring pea soup is swell, but when it comes to this bright-flavored dish, we think a pat of butter is even better; it gives the soup a rich, rounded texture.

6. Nothing satisfies quite like a generous smear of butter on a plain old saltine cracker; it's no-frills bliss.

7. In the Netherlands and Indonesia (formerly a Dutch colony), white bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles is a favorite breakfast treat. The combination calls to mind a deconstructed pain au chocolat.

8. Woodsy-tasting morel mushrooms soak up butter like little sponges when the two ingredients are united in a saute pan. The mushrooms, in turn, release their juices in a deeply flavored sauce.

9. Few dishes express the understated refinement of Italian cookery better than spaghetti with butter, grated parmigiano-reggiano, and black pepper; butter bridges the nutty-tasting cheese and the pepper's heat to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

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