Geneva 1930. Mr Boubier perfected a recipe for a flavoured butter sauce to garnish grilled meats. Known as ‘Café de Paris butter,’ the condiment was a runaway success. Boubier hit on the fantastically lazy idea of serving entrecôte au beurre Café de Paris as the only item on the menu of his son-in-law’s French café/bistro in Geneva (unsurprisingly called Café de Paris). This was served simply with French fries and a side salad. However, for home cooks, we run into the same issue that besets those trying to make a KFC – the recipe is a secret.
I do find the idea of secret recipes to be something of a joke. For starters, chefs ought to pass on their recipes so that the whole world can learn to cook and make good stuff. Secondly, all it would take to work out the recipe would be to arrange a series of mystery diner visits – each diner with a very specific food allergy. The recipe could be worked out by a process of anaphylactic elimination.
Given that the recipe is a secret, there is no real hope that The Nosey Chef could purport to have found the original, although Eatwell 101 have had a crack at it. Also, we are a bit over the idea of sauces that smother steaks. Better is the range of compound butter preparations that can be frozen, placed as a slice atop of a freshly-cooked steak, and shown a business end of a blowtorch. It is this type of thing we have prepared here from the pages of the Nick Nairn Cook School Cookbook.
Restaurant Café de Paris can be found at Rue du Mont-Blanc 26, 1201 Genève, Switzerland. An entrecôte au beurre Café de Paris (180g) with fries and a green salad will cost you CHF 42.50. It remains the only savoury item on an otherwise dessert-based café menu. A 250g pot of the famous butter costs CHF 18.50. Call + 41 (0) 22 732 84 50 for a table.
Beurre Café de Paris
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 shallots
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 splash Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Beat the butter with a whisk (use a stand mixer if you have one) until pale and creamed.
Then combine absolutely everything except the herbs and seasoning in a food processor and run it until combined.
Finally, add the herbs, and season.
Form the butter into a long sausage on a piece of greaseproof paper and then roll up into a log like a massive, fatty spliff. Wrap again in clingfilm and freeze.
To use, carve a slice off the frozen log and allow to come up to fridge temperature (room temperature if not flaming).