150g butter ½ teaspoon ground mace a few gratings of nutmeg 2 pinches of white pepper pinch of cayenne pepper 150g cooked, peeled and deveined prawns dill sprigs and wholemeal toast, to serve
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and when it just starts to bubble, take it off the heat and wait for a minute to allow the milk solids to settle on the bottom of the pan. Now, very carefully pour off the top layer (the clear liquid, AKA clarified butter) into a heatproof bowl. Skim any white stuff from the surface, then clean the pan and pour the clarified butter back into it – you should be left with about two-thirds the amount of butter you started with. Add the mace, nutmeg and both peppers and set the pan over the lowest possible heat to let the flavours infuse for a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, chop the prawns quite finely – you want a similar texture to coarse mince. Stir the prawns into the butter, then spoon into four 100ml ramekins, or two slightly larger ones, squashing them down a bit so as to have as little wasted space as possible. Pour any clarified butter still in the pan over the prawns to cover. In the days when food was potted for more practical reasons than ‘this is going to be delicious with Champagne’, a thick layer of butter would have been essential to keep air out, and so prevent spoilage of the foodstuff beneath. But thanks to refrigeration, there’s no need to worry if the odd bit of prawn is poking out. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes, then sprinkle with cayenne and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When your guests arrive, give the ramekins a few minutes out of the fridge to soften the butter slightly. Garnish with dill sprigs, then serve with triangles of brown toast.