Compound butter

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At some point this week I realized that I haven’t been making enough compound butter. You’ve probably been having the same problem. Maybe you haven’t even realized you aren’t getting enough compound butter in your life. Let’s not even talk about it and just make it.

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Ok, no, let’s talk about it just a little. Compound butter is really just butter-with-things so long as the ‘things’ are things that actually go into butter. If you’re been to a steakhouse then you’ve enjoyed compound butter. The combination of butter with parsley and lemon that’s typically used to finish a steak is called maître d’hotel butter, but there’s no need to stop there. Compound butter can be, and is, made out of just about anything.

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It’s just as good for the last few sprigs of herbs, the scrapings of a jar of horseradish, or the last inch of a jar of honey. And there aren’t many dishes that will suffer from an extra pat of butter. A good rule of thumb is that unless the ‘thing’ you add is fairly loose (like lemon zest or grated parmesan) you want a 2:1 ratio of butter to stuff. But if you end up with a densely herbed butter, I certainly won’t complain. Alright, enough talk, let’s just make some already.

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Compound butter – loose rules

  • I generally start with a half stick of butter unless I know that I need more than that for a dish I want to make. You can always make more if you need it but having too much extra can clutter up the fridge after you get bored of the flavor you made.
  • Don’t add more than 3-4 things to any given butter recipe or you’ll risk muddling the final flavor.
  • When you’ve thoroughly mixed the butter put in in a piece of parchment paper and roll it into a log. Not only is it easy storage, it also makes it easy to cut off a piece at a time and save the rest for later.
  • Use unsalted butter whenever possible – salt is a preservative so salted butter is generally less fresh. But it’s good to add a pinch of salt to every compound butter you make to help cover any bitter flavors and give the other ingredients a boost since fat can dull other flavors.

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