What Is It?
Compound butter is simply butter that has any number of flavorings mixed in.
Why Should I Make It?
- It couldn’t be easier to make
- It’s delicious (it’s butter, duh)
- It freezes oh-so well, making it a great preservation option
- It can make a so-so meal into something kick-ass
How Do I Make It?
- Soft Butter
- Start with room temperature butter. You can either leave butter sitting on the counter for a couple of hours (time depends on the temperature of your kitchen) or you can cut each stick into 1″ pieces, place evenly on a plate and microwave on low power in 30 second increments until the internal temperature is around 67 degrees (or until the butter is soft but not melted).
- Add Flavor
- Add any number of flavors – see the list below for ideas! Of course you can flavor your butter with just one ingredient but it’s much more fun to mix two or more together.
- Mix Well
- Combine butter and ingredients together thoroughly. I am usually making small amounts so find using a stand or hand mixer unnecessary. A spoon or spatula gets the job done.
- If you are planning to use the butter within a few days, just leave it in an air-tight container and keep it in the refrigerator.
- If you want to preserve it longer by freezing, transfer the butter to a sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a log and make sure it is well sealed. When ready to use, set at room temperature briefly until sliceable and cut off desired amount before refreezing. Alternatively, you could chill the log until almost frozen, slice it into coins, and then throw the coins into a plastic bag. This would make using the butter easier as you can remove just what you need.
- Simply top warm food with a thin slice butter and let it melt.
Ensure all fresh items are washed and well dried. You may prefer to cook some crunchier items such as onions and fresh peppers, ensuring they are cooled before adding to butter. It’s also best to finely chop larger items so they incorporate well into the finished butter.
- Salt: be sure to add just a pinch to bring out the other flavors if you use unsalted butter
- Alliums: shallots, garlic, chives, scallions
- Fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro, chives, basil, mint, lemon balm, tarragon, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary
- Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, garam masala, curry powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cardamom, ground fennel seed, chili powder, mushroom powder, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, turmeric, ground black pepper
- Peppers: ground black pepper, fresh hot peppers, dried hot peppers, fresh sweet peppers, chipotle in adobo
- Citrus zest
- Edible flowers
- Anchovies or anchovy paste
- Matcha green tea
- Cocoa powder or nibs
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, sorghum, molasses, granulated sugar
- Acid or booze: add just a few drops of citrus juice, vinegar or bourbon
Those combinations below that are not links to another post are borrowed from Cook’s Illustrated.
- Turmeric, honey, lemon zest and black pepper
- Chopped roasted red bell peppers and smoked paprika
- Lemon juice, grated lemon zest and minced fresh parsley leaves
- Chopped fresh rosemary and grated Parmesan cheese
- Crumbled Sequatchie Cove Shakerag Blue and cracked black pepper
- Chopped chipotle chiles in adobo, minced garlic, minced fresh cilantro leaves, and lime juice
- Minced shallot and chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Curry powder, minced shallot and chopped fresh mint and cilantro leaves
- Minced sage leaves and finely chopped toasted walnuts
- Honey, fresh orange juice and grated orange zest
- Roasted garlic and minced caramelized onion
- Minced sun-dried tomatoes, pesto or tapenade
There are countless ways to use compound butter but here are some of my favorite:
- Melt over any number of grilled or roasted items: meat, seafood, mushrooms, veggies
- Melt over cooked grains, such as rice, barley, farro, quinoa, millet, polenta
- Sweetened butters are great with waffles, toast, muffins, oatmeal