Delicious, Easy, Keeps In The Freezer, Always Ready To Use
Today, compound butter is one of the best favor improvers you can keep in the refrigerator or freezer. Once made, it will keep up to six months in the freezer and is always ready, It dissolves, silkily on your meal, melting to form a perfect sauce. Use it on steaks, poultry, most any meat or vegetables. Can’t wait for dinner; smooth it on your best fresh bread!
(A perfect sauce, is one that’s not only delicious but makes itself when you are in a hurry!) You form the butter into a sausage-like roll and just cut the round slices as you need them.
Compound butter, “beurre compose” probably started as something called Beurre Maitre d’Hotel and they made it for you tableside while you waited eagerly for your fish, poultry, or grilled steak.
You Need Two Things
Room temperature butter, unsalted is easiest because you control the seasoning yourself. Your fresh garden herbs, use one or a combination you like. Add citrus zest, spices, chiles to your taste.
The butter will last six months in the freezer and provide you your fresh herb flavors late in the year.
Use butter you like. We Americans have a standard for butter that requires a minimum of 80% butterfat, which is sweet and tasty. It makes an excellent compound butter.
You may, like many Americans, have developed a taste for the richer flavors of European butter. What makes it richer tasting? This butter is churned longer and permitted to slightly ferment. It ranges from 82% to 87% butterfat, and a few degrees more fat makes a big difference. (It is the French butter that is likely to have the highest butterfat.)
During an extended trip where we cooked for ourselves for 6 weeks and buying from European grocery stores and farmers markets, we developed a taste for local butter. We learned to love a rich and creamy Irish butter and especially French butter, sometimes studded with large dots of sea salt.
Today, we find more choices of European butter as well as European-style American butter brands. (If consumers want something new, American companies tend to find a way to deliver it.)
Your Choice of Butter
I always keep a choice of butter in the freezer and when I am ready to make compound butter, and I have the fresh materials I just make it with the good quality butter I have on hand. If you want to treat yourself, give one of the European brands a try.
The Herbs And Other Ingredients
Use your freshest herbs, a single herb is delicious. Think of basil butter, oniony chive butter, rosemary butter, use your imagination, and use flavors you love best. This is the most forgiving of recipes. Consider adding diced shallots, tiny dice of pepper. I grow a pretty, bright red pepper with a strong flavor. Diced in tiny bits it is both tasty and beautiful on your steak. Use spices and while we are talking about savory butter don’t overlook sweet compound butter for toast, croissants, and pancakes.
The Recipe-Proportions To Use
To make a good-sized log use the following measurements.
- Butter-use one-half pound or two sticks. Allow them to come to room temperature. Room temperature butter will be soft enough for thorough blending and firm enough to hold its shape. When the butter is ready for you it’s time to get to work.
- For this amount of butter use about 6 tablespoons of finely diced herbs. You can add a little more. In my early experiments, I was too stingy with the herbs. Waste of time!
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Some Flavor Combinations
- Basil butter-for poultry, fish, vegetables, and eggs
- Parsley & Chive butter-potato, green beans, corn, and beef
- Lemon and Thyme-brighten vegetables
- Garlic and Parsley-beef or any meat
- Fresh herbs with bacon and blue cheese-makes a special steak
- Sage, Thyme, Rosemary-perfect for any poultry-you can add crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, cumin, clove, or nutmeg
- Lemon juice, Parsley, salt and pepper-perfect for fish
- Rosemary, paprika butter-use for fish, poultry, steak, corn, grilled vegetables
- Harissa with mint, miso, or avocado.
How To Make It
Add the herbs to the softened butter mix softly but thoroughly, each bite should have all the flavors. Add the spices, salt, and pepper. It is a hardship, but you will need to taste it.
Form The Log
Place the butter in a long thick strip on a piece of cling wrap or parchment paper. You will enclose the butter in the wrapper and roll it into a sausage shape. Use a spatula or knife to seal it. Then wrap the ends tightly you can spin the log. i have no scientific studies on this last step but many cooks (me included) swear on the bible that it seems to compress the loaf and make it firm. You try it, then let me know what works for you.
Parchment Or Cling Wrap
The parchment, tied at the ends with twine is pretty enough for a gift. With the cling wrap, many cooks find it easier to form a smooth log. I do. If I were making it a gift I would put parchment and a tag over the cling wrap. To store your butter in the refrigerator or the freezer wrap it in foil or/and plastic wrap. You have worked to produce a great flavor and aroma. You won’t want it to pick up random scents.
Summary, Using Your Butter
Don’t forget you have it. Many weeknight meals can be transformed. Put it on vegetable courses, float it on soup, top your roasted meat and fish. Do not forget that it will make you an instant topping for pasta.
I find that frozen logs are the easiest to cut (about a half-inch slice per serving.)
The condiments you make with your fresh herbs are very similar to the herbs themself. Keep them in convenient locations, and they will make you a more inventive cook and your family will eat better and healthier meals. Bon Appetit!
Sweet Butter for Baked Goods
I found this website, with articles written by a mom and daughter, other fans of compound butter. They have some very useful information regarding sweet compound butter. They recommend confectioners sugar for berry butter. Try it out.
Some More Information
My List Of Culinary Herbs To Grow For Your Kitchen: Here I have a chart of herbs with links to more detailed facts about each herb.