This peppercorn butter is a gorgeous compound butter made with homemade raw butter (see my tutorial on how to make unpasteurised butter) and fruity, floral peppercorns.
This is one of the flavours I experimented with when I began making my own butter. I have long had a passionate love of peppercorns, crushing, grinding and sprinkling them on pretty much everything I make. I visited Kampot in Cambodia in 2010, home of a particularly special kind of peppercorn, Kampot pepper, and I returned truly laden with green, black and red peppercorns – all berries from the same plant, but at different stages of growth or processing. I have been cheerfully ploughing my way through those 7kg (yes really, 7kg) over the past few years, but they have finally run out and my thoughts turned to the possibility of new and exciting types of pepper.
A happy trip to Provence in southern France recently (read my account of the food and drink of Provence) yielded such a peppercorn. Wild Madagascan pepper, brought into France along old colonial trading routes, was available in every spice shop in this coastal region and some made it back in my luggage.
The flavour and aroma is incredible. Powerfully fruity, deeply spicy, floral and fragrant. I wish I'd brought back more, but it wasn't priced quite as keenly as Kampot pepper.
Pink peppercorns are another option. Their fruitiness makes them an excellent seasoning in sweet applications and they are a particularly good match for citrus and other fruits. If you have a little lemon cake on hand, a smear of this will certainly lift it. Sprinkled over ice cream is also highly recommended.
In this recipe for Gin & Citrus Éclairs, I paired pink peppercorns with lemon, orange, pink grapefruit and a floral gin – this butter would work well in both the choux pastry and the buttery pastry cream.
Or if you prefer to stick with savoury, another option is melted over pasta, with a scrape or two of lemon zest for freshness and zing. Pink peppercorns pair well with yeasty flavours too, so this butter is great on crusty sourdough bread or on a cheese plate. This excellent article on the many uses for pink peppercorns at Serious Eats has many, many more excellent suggestions.
After kneading and dividing the butter you work in the seasoning, with a set of wooden butter paddles if you have them, or with a palette knife if you don't. If you don't fancy the idea of making your own butter (it's quick and tastes absolutely fantastic by the way!), you can soften shop-bought butter and flavour that instead.
Use as you would any other delicious butter – tossed through vegetables, stirred through risotto, melted over polenta, spread on crusty sourdough, anointing new potatoes...
- 100 g homemade unpasteurised butter
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns coarsely ground
- If using homemade butter, add the seasonings after the kneading stage (see my tutorial on how to make your own butter. You can substitute shop-bought unsalted butter for the homemade butter, just bring it to room temperature to soften before working in the seasoning.
- Using butter paddles or a palette knife, smear the butter over a wooden chopping board and sprinkle over the salt and pepper. Chop and mix the seasonings into the butter, then reshape into a rectangular pat.