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story.lead_photo.caption Chicken paillards With Orange-Thyme Butter Photo by Kelly Brant

I live with a butter thief.

I've lost count of how many times I've left a stick or two of butter on the counter to soften only to come back an hour or so later and find no butter. The first time or two I blamed it on being absent-minded, thinking I had only thought about getting the butter out.

But when it kept happening, I knew something was up.

After losing at least a pound to the scoundrel, I finally caught him in the act.

He's got salt-and-pepper hair, long legs, weighs about 170 pounds and helps himself to any butter he can reach.

He eats it by the pat, by the stick and by the pound.

He feels no guilt and shows no remorse.

His name is Aki.

He is my giant Alaskan malamute. Giant malamutes are not their own breed but rather the result of (irresponsible) selective breeding. Normal male mals are about 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 80 to 100 pounds. Aki is 32-plus inches tall at the shoulder. When he stands on his hind legs, he is more than 6 feet tall. Imagine a Great Dane in KISS makeup wearing a black and gray abominable snowman suit. Or if you're a Game of Thrones fan, one of the Stark family's dire wolves, but with distinctive black and white facial markings.

Aki, aka the butter thief, enjoying the sunshine. Courtesy of Kelly Brant

We don't know much about his backstory other than he was surrendered at 18 months old by his former owner to a shelter in Gulf Port, Miss. We adopted him two years ago from Texas Alaskan Malamute Rescue. So despite his Arctic origins, he's a Southern boy through and through.

His fondness isn't limited to just butter — he also enjoys eating books, scissors handles and wooden spoons — but he seems to have a particular weakness for butter.

Aki showing off his long legs. Courtesy of Kelly Brant

It has taken many more pounds of butter than it should, but I have learned my lesson. Butter that needs softening goes on a high kitchen shelf, not the back of the counter.

While Aki seems to prefer butter flavored with paper, I've been enjoying it with orange zest and thyme.

This flavorful compound butter is delicious tossed with vegetables such as asparagus or green beans — it is especially good with roasted cherry tomatoes — and melted atop fish or chicken.

Orange-Thyme Butter

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

Finely grated zest of ½ orange (I use a Microplane rasp)

Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Pinch salt (omit if using salted butter)

Generous grind black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine butter, orange zest, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Mix well. Transfer butter to a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Shape into a log and wrap well and chill until firm.

Makes ½ cup.

Food on 04/24/2019

Print Headline: Quick! Grab the butter before the bandit gets it

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