Oh butter. You savory, melt-in-my-mouth little delight. To be honest, I can't think of a situation in the kitchen when I don't reach for it. Okay, maybe one. The green salad. And when it comes to compound butter - or butter combined with added flavors - the options are endless.
Personally, I revel for the times when I'm at a restaurant and the kitchen serves a compound butter as an accompaniment. Perhaps a whipped honey butter for pancakes, or a parsley butter for the sizzling steak. I serve plenty a variety of compound butter when cooking for clients, but the one here is a versatile, easy favorite. Maitre D'hotel butter, a classic enhanced with fresh parsley and lemon juice.
The possibilities are endless
Citrus butter for grilled fish, brown sugar and cinnamon for waffles. Anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, paprika, bacon, Tabasco, dried chili peppers. It took serious self-control to put a period at the end of that last sentence.
So compound some butter to easily and literally spice up your next special meal. Or weeknight, if you're feeling wild. And leave yourself more time to compound other things. Like that pile of laundry.
How to make compound butter
Take room temperature butter (a pastured or European brand is best) and mix in your chosen flavors, i.e. brown sugar, honey, fresh herbs, citrus juice or zest. Quantity is personal preference. Taste and see. Not herbal enough? Add another teaspoon. Not sweet enough? Whisk in more honey. If the butter is unsalted, add salt here.
Spoon it onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and roll it up, tucking and pressing the butter into a compact log. Twist and tie off the ends and refrigerate to set. Or if you have no interest in plastic wrap and rolling, spoon it into small ramekins and call it tasty.
If you're like me and keep your butter at room temperature, the whole process takes ten minutes. Store compound butter in the refrigerator until you're ready to enjoy. Let stand at room temperature for half an hour before serving.
For a decorative slice, cut the cold compound butter into quarter-inch slices, then use small cookie cutters. Compound butters can also be piped onto parchment paper using a star tip and piping bag for an extra fancy flair.