Curry, French, Sauces

Café de Paris Butter

OK, I am going to tread very carefully here and after my brief intro, I am going to revert to a piece I found online many years ago by Franz Scheurer on the topic of Café de Paris Butter.

The reason for treading carefully is threefold:

  1. The original recipe was (and is) a secret and cooked only in one French restaurant in Geneva.
  2. It was so good that apparently the Germans during WWII booked the restaurant out night after night.
  3. There are many interpretations though they are just that; nobody really knows and suggesting that this take on Café de Paris Butter is correct would be dangerous.

Though I think, from what I have read, that this particular recipe is close if not it!

And lordy, of all the butters I have made, it is freaking good.

Don’t be inundated by the extent of the ingredients. Roll up your sleeves and do the hard yards. It freezes and you’ll have the best steaks in town for weeks and weeks.

The excerpt I found by Franz Scheurer:

Created by Freddy Dumont in 1941, specifically to go with sirloin steak, and served in the Restaurant Café de Paris in Geneva, this herb/spice butter was an instant success. So much so that it was almost impossible to get into the restaurant for years. The exact recipe is probably still secret today, and only a few restaurants world-wide are reputed to serve the original recipe, amongst them the Parisian ‘Le Relais de l’Entrecôte’ and the ‘L’Entrecôte de Paris’ and the ‘Café de Paris’ in San Francisco. The original Restaurant Café de Paris in Geneva still exists (albeit under new management) and still has the butter on the menu.

You won’t find a recipe for Café de Paris in Escoffier, Larousse or the Sauce Bible. Nor is it listed in the Oxford Companion to Food, Food Essentials A-Z or in the Cook’s Encyclopaedia. I did eventually find it in the German edition of ‘Der Grosse Pellaprat’, printed in Switzerland in 1966. Interestingly, it closely matches the recipe I have from my father, from his time as a chef at the Savoy in London in 1943.

Surfing the internet it becomes obvious that there are a lot of ‘chef’s versions’ out there, some quite close to what you would expect and some really way-out, like a German hotel chef’s version mounting a herb butter based on thyme, tarragon and parsley with sweetened condensed milk!

In Sydney Café de Paris butter is on the menu at quite a few restaurants and one, Bistro Moncur, is certainly very well known for this dish and their version is superb. 

Below my father’s recipe from 1943:

Beurre Café de Paris

Ingredients

1 kg butter
60g tomato ketchup
25g Dijon mustard
25g capers (in brine)
125g brown eschalots
50g fresh curly parsley
50g fresh chives
5g dried marjoram
5g dried dill
5g fresh thyme, leaves only
10 leaves fresh French tarragon
Pinch ground rosemary
1 garlic clove, squashed then chopped very finely
8 anchovy fillets (rinsed)
1 tbs good brandy
1 tbs Madeira
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp curry powder (Keens)
Pinch cayenne
8 white peppercorns
juice 1 lemon
zest of ½ lemon
zest ¼ orange
12gm salt

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients with the exception of butter in a glass bowl and leave to marinate for 24 hours in a warm part of the kitchen (a slight
    fermentation occurs).
  2. Purée the mixture in a blender and push through a chinois (a sieve to save you looking it up!).
  3. Foam the butter and mix with the purée. Cover and store in the fridge.
  4. It is customary to form the butter into a log, freeze it and cut off slices as you need them.

Keeps for several weeks.

Upon service a round of frozen butter is placed on the cooked sirloin and put under a VERY hot salamander for just long enough to begin to brown the top of the butter (while the butter underneath stays cold).

Ummmm

Cook your steak, let it sit, slice some of the butter on top and put it under the grill until it starts to melt.

Serve with thinly sliced and baked potatoes and an avocado and watercress salad and Vive la Revolution!

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