He had me at anchovy. New York Times food editor Sam Sifton’s recipe recommendation in yesterday’s “What to Cook” column may not have appealed to many, especially those who are put off by those small, oily, potent-smelling fish whose bones can get stuck between your teeth. But the mention of anchovy butter was, to me, a revelation, and I silently cursed myself for not having heard of, or tried, it sooner. “I don’t expect everyone is going to join me, but if you’re up for a delicious, slightly sporty breakfast tomorrow morning,” Sifton writes, “you might consider making some anchovy butter tonight.”
And so, indeed, I did. As Sifton tells it, he came upon the spread one morning at a hotel in London, and it certainly strikes one as a British concoction—but having eaten it this morning, I can’t say it’s all that sporty, though it certainly greased my wheels.
The recipe, if you can call it a recipe, is exceedingly simple: a few cloves of minced garlic, a whole tin of minced anchovies, a few shakes of paprika, a squirt of lemon juice, and of course, a whole stick of unsalted butter softened by room temperature. I opted for a dash of salt, too, though it’s optional and not recommended if you aren’t hardcore into savory tastes.
Last night, I combined those ingredients in a bowl and then mashed them together with a fork. I left the mixture in the fridge to marinate over night, and this morning heavily smeared some of it onto a sliced and toasted English muffin.
It was so good, a pungent pick-me-up when I needed it most, that I helped myself to another, which was not necessarily an idea I’d repeat—the intense flavor and oleaginous texture made me feel a bit queasy.
Still, now that we know butter isn’t as bad for us as we’d previously thought (right?), we can regard anchovy butter as a delicious breakfast option that you don’t need to feel guilty about consuming. And it’s a good meal to start the year with, I think, because when the salty spread hits your tongue, it heightens the senses, brings your surroundings into sharper focus (even as it makes your breath fetid). It’s safe to say that we’re going to need more discerning minds to separate fact from fiction as we make our way into the thick of 2017.