The Easiest Ways to Make Fancy Dipping Butter
The combination of fat and bread is a simple and inexpensive entertainment for the public. You can either spread tallow on bread or dip bread in tallow. Both options are good. Dipping bread in high-quality olive oil is an enjoyable experience in itself. A good olive oil can taste herbal, fruity, or peppery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve the taste with a few additions.
Here’s how to make your own fancy dipping butter using ingredients you probably already have.
Clean out the spice shelf
It is possible, even likely, that you have one or more jars of dried herbs and spices of unknown origin and date of purchase on your spice shelf. Even if they are no longer the most powerful, the oil will draw out any flavor that is left inside them. Most dipping oil recipes focus on Italian herbs – oregano, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, etc. – but don’t ignore Middle Eastern herbs and spices, especially sumac, which goes great with coriander, cumin, paprika, and (again) parsley.
You don’t really need a prescription
While there are many recipes for dipping oil, you don’t have to follow one of them. Start with a cup of good olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Choose a couple of dried herbs you want to highlight and add a teaspoon of each. Add any other complimentary herbs in 1/4 teaspoon increments and any dried and ground spices in 1/8 teaspoon increments. Let everything sit for 30 minutes for the herbs to dissolve into the oil, then taste and adjust as needed.
Make it garlicky
You can add garlic powder to your oil, but this is where it makes sense to add to your list of shelf-stable ingredients. A couple of mashed or crushed cloves per cup of dipping oil should be enough, but if you want a sweeter, milder flavor, try mashing four roasted cloves into the mixture. (You can also add a pinch of garlic powder if you like, to add a toasted element on top of fresh or fried foods.)
Make it spicy
Salt is good, but monosodium glutamate is better, at least when it comes to umami. Glutamates give your butter a rounder, richer savory flavor, and the use of pure MSG means you only need a pinch to achieve this effect.
Parmesan cheese is another good source of glutamate, but you’ll need a lot more of it. One or two tablespoons of dipping oil per cup is sufficient; get nice stuff with little crunchy crystals for extra nutty zest.
Add some acid
A spoonful of balsamic balsamic can add balance to an herbal oil bowl, and it looks pretty pretty floating around it in neat little drops. Stirring bread in a bowl lets you get a little of both in every bite, and the combination of acid and fat will keep you coming back for more. For a more subtle effect, you can whisk in the juice of a fresh lemon or decant the oil from a strip of zest for an intoxicating floral note. (You can also rub the zest with herbs if you’re a real lemongrass.)