Though butter by itself is certainly lovely (particularly if it's a good, European-style variety), it's fun and simple to jazz it up by turning it into a compound butter. A compound butter, or Beurre composé in French, is simply butter that has been softened, then mixed with a variety of delicious ingredients (i.e. herbs or garlic), and then either smoothed into a crock or formed into a log and chilled until it is firm again. The extra ingredients impart a lovely flavor and, sometimes, color to the butter, and make it even more versatile of an ingredient in your cooking and entertaining repertoire.
The most obvious use of a compound butter is as a spread for bread. This simple parsley and basil herb butter from Beakers & Bouillon is a great starter for trying this out. Looking for more flavor options? Then try this list of compound butter recipes from An Accomplished Woman. If you're a tomato lover, this sundried tomato butter from To Food With Love is a great option, too.
Though no one probably needsto add more saturated fat to a steak, I'm not going to lie: a good compound butter can help add flavor and interest to your Porterhouse, or, perhaps a more restrained cut like flank steak. You can take it in a spicy direction, as with this cilantro-jalapeño compound butter from Blue Kitchen or this spicy herbed butter for steak and lobster from There's A Newf In My Soup, or in a cheesier direction, like this Gorgonzola herbed butter from Robyn Stone of Add a Pinch, who explained the magic of compound butter as a steak-finisher:
As my steaks were resting, I knew they really didn’t require anything else, but they sure did deserve something to elevate them just a smidge. That’s when I whipped up this Gorgonzola herbed butter at the last minute to serve on top of them. Let’s just say that little tablespoon of goodness was this steaks crowning glory!
The same flavor-boosting effect can work on hearty fish, like salmon. This herb-lemon zest butter from Eleventh Floor View is a great condiment for broiled, roasted, or seared fish.
Vegetables and eggs benefit from compound butters as well. Can't get enough of garlic bread? Then try slipping discs of garlic herb butter in between slices in a parboiled baking potato, then finishing it in the oven. It also serves as a lovely flavor agent for asparagus and scrambled eggs, as The Experimental Gourmand discovered.
If you're reaching the end of your meal, try Kitchen Kemistry's orange butter inside crepes or on blintzes. She also says it "pairs perfectly" with plenty of other baked goods,
Have you tried making compound butter before? What's your favorite flavor combination to mix in? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image Credit: Edsel L on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.
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