Café de Paris butter is a flavoured butter for steak that’s infused with an tantalising mix of herbs, spices and savoury condiments. Top sizzling-hot steaks with slices of this classic French compound butter and watch as it melts into an incredible butter sauce that oozes over the meat!
Café de Paris butter – sauce for steak
Despite its name, Café de Paris butter was actually born in Switzerland, at Restaurant Café de Paris in Geneva back in 1941. It is traditionally an emulsified butter sauce that’s poured over steak, and the original secret recipe is still served today at restaurants such the L’Entrecote group’s steakhouses in France, Switzerland and elsewhere.
These days you’ll find versions of Café de Paris sauce more often served instead as convenient, flavoured butter rounds, like this recipe. Either way the fundamentals are a good balance of aromatic herbs, careful spicing and a savoury boost from a secret ingredient: anchovies!
A pat of this butter on a steak with a side of thinly cut fries, and you’ve instantly got a classic steak frites worthy of a swanky French bistro. Its use doesn’t end there either. The flavours also go brilliantly with seafood, poultry and steamed vegetables too!
Ingredients in Café de Paris butter
Café de Paris butter is all about great balance! No single flavour should dominate, it should taste of a complex whole.
Butter – Not all butters are created equal! Most butters are like wine – the more you pay, the better the butter.
For a truly authentic experience, find a French butter (I get mine from a local French deli called Le Petit Marché in Newport, Sydney). Whatever you use, be sure it is unsalted since we’re adding salty incredients already.
Anchovies – This is an essential ingredient for a really great, authentic Café de Paris butter. It does not make the butter taste fishy, it just blends in as a background flavour and most importantly, adds seasoning and umami that plain salt cannot do.
It is what makes this butter GREAT, so don’t skip it!
Substitute with 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste.
Curry powder – Curry powder is one of the “secret” spices that makes Café de Paris butter so deliciously intriguing. It doesn’t dominate the butter, but it’s definitely there, well balanced with the other flavourings.
The original recipe probably contains vadouvan, a French curry spice blend with colonial roots. Any curry powder is fine here though because it’s a complimentary rather than primary flavour. I use Keens or Clives of India, both sold at Woolworths, Coles and other large grocery stores in Australia.
Paprika – The other spice that adds a lovely warmth to the butter in terms of both flavour and colour.
Worcestershire sauce – We’re doubling down on the fish-based umami! This pantry-essential sauce adds even more savoury flavour depth to this butter. There really is no substitute!
Lemon – Just a touch of brightness. If you don’t have lemons, vinegar will work fine here because it’s such a small amount (just 1 teaspoon).
Dijon mustard – For flavour and a little sharpness. Dijon mustard is traditional (being of French origin!) else any smooth and non-spicy mustard will work fine here.
Eschalots – Also known as French onions, and are called “shallots” in the US. They look like baby onions, but have purple-skinned flesh, are finer and sweeter. Not to be confused with what some people in Australia call “shallots” ie the long green onions
Tarragon – A common herb used in French cooking with a mild aniseed flavour, a key herb flavouring for an authentic Café de Paris experience!
Parsley – This adds colour more than flavour into the butter, so I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely essential with all the other flavourings included in this butter.
How to make Café de Paris butter for steak
To make Café de Paris, it’s as simple as mixing, shaping into a log then refrigerating until firm so it can be sliced.
Mix – Place all the Café de Paris ingredients in a bowl until combined. It might take a bit of effort because we’re mixing water-based ingredients (Worcestershire sauce, lemon) with fat (the butter). Mash / mix / smear as needed to make it happen!
Place on cling wrap – Place the butter on a piece of cling wrap and roughly shape into a 20cm/8″ log.
Roll up in the cling wrap.
Twist ends to tighten the cling wrap around the log. The tighter the ends twist, the firmer and neater the log will become!
Refrigerate – Secure ends as needed to hold the log shape. Usually, the cling wrap holds itself in place well enough to not worry about doing knots, or you can tuck the ends under the log so the weight of the log stops them unravelling. But if it is loosening, just tie the ends tightly.
Refrigerate for 3 hours until firm.
Slice and serve – To use, remove from the fridge and slice while firm and cold. Let it come to room temperature (so it melts easily on hot steak).
Cook steak to your liking, then place one or two slices of butter on the hot steak so it melts into a sauce. Prepare yourself for a lip smacking steak dinner!
Leftovers – fridge 3 days or freeze 2 months (pre slice for ease of use).
The classic French way to serve steak with Cafe de Paris butter is steak frites – a bistro steak with shoestring fries and a simple green salad. Simplicity at its best.
Otherwise, while ordinarily I’d suggest classic steakhouse sides of buttered herb baby potatoes with some warm greens, today I’m going with bread.
Because there ain’t nothing like warm crusty bread to mop a plate clean of butter, right?!? – Nagi x
PS. The bread I linked above is the most popular bread recipe on my website, a famous No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread based on a New York Times recipe. But if you don’t have yeast – or don’t have time to wait for dough to rise – try this No Yeast Loaf instead. For a loaf made without yeast, it is outstandingly convincing!
Watch how to make it
Café de Paris – Steak butter sauce
- 100g / 7 tbsp unsalted butter , softened
- 2 tbsp eschalot (small), very finely chopped (Note 1)
- 1 garlic , finely minced
- 3 anchovy fillets , finely chopped (Note 2)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp curry powder (mild, Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp paprika (plain or sweet, not smoked or spicy)
- 1 tsp kosher / cooking salt
- 2 tsp tarragon , finely chopped (Note 4)
- 2 tsp parsley , finely chopped
- Steaks of choice (Note 5)
- 1/2 tsp cooking/kosher salt per steak
- 1/4 tsp black pepper per steak
- 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
Café de Paris butter:
- Place ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.
- Place on cling wrap and roughly shape into a 20cm / 8″ log using spatulas or butter knives.
- Roll up, then twist ends tightly. As you tighten the ends, the butter will shape into a neat, firm log.
- Tie ends if needed to keep the shape. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.
- To use – Slice into 0.7cm (1/3") slices, then let them soften to room temperature (so they melt easier). Place on hot steak so it melts – I use 2 slices each steak. Leftovers – fridge 3 days or freeze 2 months (pre sliced for ease of use).
- Bring to room temp: Take the steak out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Dry: Pat steaks dry with paper towels.
- Heat skillet: Heat oil in a heavy based skillet over high heat until it is very hot – you should see smoke!
- Season: Sprinkle each side of the steak generously with salt and pepper, then immediately place in the skillet.
- Cook steak to taste: For 2cm (3/4") thick steaks, cook the first side for 2 minutes, then turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes (medium rare 52°C/125°F, chart below for other doneness temps).
- Rest: Transfer steaks to a warm plate, cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.
- Leftovers – fridge 3 days or freeze 2 months (pre sliced for ease of use).
Life of Dozer
He was banished outside until I could wash him because he rolled in duck poo while out on a walk. Hard to resist that forlorn face. He’s used to total freedom – coming and going as he pleases! (Confession – one pitiful wail and I ditched work to go outside to bathe him. #sucker)