MEAT+POULTRY: Fat is back. Flavors are bold. How’s this helping the butter business?
|John Hubschman, co-founder of Epicurean Butter|
John Hubschman: First and foremost, I believe consumers appreciate the value of real food. Butter is real food and is, by leaps and bounds, so much better than the manufactured imposters of the previous decades. Bold flavors mean you can use in moderation yet get a lot of power. I like the example of a baked potato with roasted garlic herb butter. A consumer tends to use less butter than when using ordinary butter, salt and pepper. Flavored butter takes this side dish to a whole new level and can do the same for meat and poultry.
M+P: What exactly are compound/finishing butters?
Hubschman: Compound butters are fundamental to classic French cuisine. Butter is a blank canvas that accepts flavors and delivers both texture and flavor. We use our culinary expertise to blend fresh herbs and spices to create multipurpose finishing butters. The uses are endless: vegetables, meat, poultry, pasta, truly anything that needs flavor or a step up.
M+P: How can meat and poultry processors use such butters to add value and create excitement in the animal protein category?
Hubschman: Epicurean Butter does not target the dairy department with our finishing butters. We discovered early on that consumers need to see them merchandised near the proteins they would be used on. We believe this benefits the retailer and the consumer. For example, an employee at the butcher counter can share serving ideas with their customers, such as stuffing a hand-formed hamburger with compound butter. I guarantee that customer will be back for more ideas. Consumers have the urge to cook but want guaranteed good, memorable results. By using a compound/finishing butter, impressive results are simple. Some retailers are assembling “meal for two” packs for merchandising in the meat department. They put the protein in a foil tray with pre-portioned finishing butter and instruct the home cook to simply bake or broil in the oven. Some online premium steak companies offer our 3.5-oz. containers as a way to up their steakhouse game.
M+P: What are some innovative compound/finishing butter and meat/poultry pairings?
Hubschman: I love to think about home cooks having a variety of our finishing butters on hand when they entertain. Picture this: free range chicken skewers on the grill, as they come off the fire each guest chooses a butter for personalized seasoning. One guest slathers their skewer with chili lime butter, the next, less adventurous guest, chooses roasted garlic herb. Here’s another scenario: Hot steaks come off the grill. One person tops it with aromatic black truffle butter. Another chooses Tuscan herb butter to melt and bathe the steak in flavor. And don’t forget poultry. Lemon Garlic herb butter under the skin of a roasted chicken adds a notable difference.
M+P: What are the challenges with including a scoop of butter with meat and poultry products?
Hubschman: Cross contamination is always a concern. This is exactly why we purchased equipment to seal our finishing butter in 1-oz. squeeze packs. These packs can be added to frozen or refrigerated meat and poultry products. The 1-oz. squeeze packs are ideal for meal delivery companies as well.
M+P: Anything new up your sleeve at Epicurean Butter?
Hubschman: There’s always something new on the horizon. We have just begun producing 0.5- to 1-oz. rosettes of flavored butters. The first customer using these is a grocery store making heat-and-eat meal kits.