Real Butter: Real Quality

A while ago, a trend in the food world caught me by surprise: suddenly everybody thought butter was bad for you!

Well, I never bought into that. I love butter, and the scientific theories denouncing it never really rang true to me. How could something so delicious be terrible for your health?

Fact: Butter Ain’t So Bad

Butter has been a dietary staple among humans for centuries, and it is a large part of the ‘classic’ American diet. So it was a big upset a number of years ago when experts suddenly turned their backs on butter!

Science had apparently linked high levels of saturated fats to increased risk of heart disease, and this sparked a massive debate that would rage on for decades. Margarine became the new ‘go-to’ spread and was recommended by doctors, researchers and nutritionists. Years of anti-fat marketing boosted the argument that butter was bad for you, and triggered guilt trips in millions whenever they chose to spread butter on their bread.

New studies, however, are proving that this is nothing more than a sinister misconception. It’s now thought that saturated fats actually improve levels of “good” cholesterol in the blood while helping transform “bad” cholesterol into a more benign form.

Fact: there is no scientific link between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease.

What a relief! This news comes just as new opinions are forming about margarine and the dangers of trans fats.

Food vs Junk ‘Food’

Dukes chowder house

Dr. Weeks and I agree that a healthy diet filled with fresh, natural and sustainable foods is invaluable to the overall health of the body.

My good friend Dr. Bradford S. Weeks uses food as a natural medicine, teaching his patients that a healthy diet can reduce and even replace the use of most pharmaceutical drugs. He fundamentally disagrees with the term ‘junk food.’

“There is food, and there is junk, and even though the junk might be full of artificial flavors and artificial sweeteners and artificial colorings – making it edible and perhaps even delicious – it is not food,” he says. “Food, by definition, nourishes. Junk does not.”

Trans fatty acids fall under the category of ‘junk’. Margarine is mostly made up of vegetable oils, such as soybean, which is liquid at room temperature, so it must undergo a process called hydrogenation. The hydrogenation process involves exposing the oil to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst … that does not sound appetizing!

According to Dr. Brad, this process destroys the healthy oil and creates trans fatty acids, which are synthetic compounds that lengthen shelf life and keep the margarine solid. Trans fats also pack a double whammy of lowering ‘good’ cholesterol and raising ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, and they interfere with a healthy metabolism. This leads to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease, exactly the kind of outcome people were once afraid of with butter.

“It may seem contrary, but my advice is to eat only food that will rot or turn rancid,” says Dr. Weeks. “That is living, real food. Junk never rots, and that should tell you something!”

Darigold: The Cream of the Crop

Dukes chowder house

Darigold butter melted my heart the first time I tried it, and I’ve used their dairy products ever since.

At Duke’s Chowder House, we have a nickname for our high standards. Mike Friccero, a dedicated Alaskan fisherman, coined the term ‘Dukeworthy’ years ago while taking me along on a fishing trip on his boat Miss Gina. We had just succeeded in reeling in a Wild Alaskan Halibut. The fish was a little too small, however, and its skin wasn’t very vivid or bright. “That’s not Dukeworthy; throw it back,” yelled the Captain. And the phrase stuck.

‘Dukeworthy’ refers to those high standards that we demand of our providers and their products that are destined for a Duke’s kitchen. If a provider is ‘Dukeworthy,’ you know that they supply Duke’s with natural ingredients that are grown, caught, harvested and transported in a sustainable manner.

Darigold is one of our longest-standing ‘Dukeworthy’ suppliers. The company started in 1918 as a farmer-owned dairy co-op and today is one of the largest such co-ops in the country. I first tasted their delicious dairy products at other restaurants I visited, and immediately loved it. So in 1977, when I opened the first Duke’s, I knew that I wanted Darigold dairy in my kitchens.

Every meal at Duke’s starts with a fresh-baked batch of our famous Double Sourdough Bread, and everybody knows that good bread needs good butter. Darigold butter is smooth and creamy with an incredible taste, perfect for spreading. They use an old-fashioned European Vacuum Churn to make it, which efficiently removes air. While most butter brands contain 5 to 6 percent air in a brick, Darigold butter has less than .05 percent, resulting in a dense and silky butter that will blow your mind!

Our Award-Winning Clam Chowder is the cornerstone of Duke’s Chowder House, and uses both cream and butter in the recipe. We serve 245,000 cups of chowder a year, and 105,000 bowls! Without Darigold dairy, we might not have won the Seattle Chowder Cook-Off three years in a row, launching Duke’s Chowder House into success beyond my wildest dreams. We also use butter or cream in our Lobster Mobster Pernod Chowder, Ragin’ Cajun Chicken Corn Chowder, and Crabby Baby Bisque, plus many more dishes on Duke’s menu. These recipes and many more are elevated to a higher level simply by using quality dairy from Darigold, and our customers notice.

Clarified butter sounds fancy, but it’s really quite simple, especially using Darigold butter; it’s simply butter with the milk solids removed. Chefs like it because of its clean, buttery flavor, and it doesn’t burn as easily as regular butter. Here’s a quick guide to clarifying butter with Darigold:

  • Slowly melt Darigold Butter in a heavy-gauge pan. Skim the white foam off the top with a spoon. (Reserve it to pour over popcorn for extra deliciousness!)
  • Boil Darigold Butter for about 1 minute. When the milk solids on the bottom of the pan begin to brown, slowly pour through cheesecloth, leaving the brown specks in the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate or freeze.

When you use Darigold, all of the fat solids easily sink to the bottom of the pan, leaving nothing but the glorious pure clarified butter on top, making it extremely easy to separate. Make this next time you are enjoying fresh Dungeness Crab, and impress your guests with your culinary skills.

At Duke’s, all of our suppliers have been personally vetted and selected by me, ensuring that they live up to the high level of quality we have established at Duke’s Chowder House. Darigold is no exception. They have an all-natural product that tastes delicious and they are a company that takes responsibility for their environmental impacts. Their dairy is free of bovine growth hormone rBGH, and the farmer-owned company has kept local farms alive and well for generations. Darigold dairy has been an important part of my journey as a business owner, and I am proud to call them a ‘Dukeworthy’ provider. I look forward to continuing our partnership for many years to come.

Darigold does dairy differently; Book a reservation at one of our six locations and see for yourself the difference that quality makes.

May 7, 2017
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