Compound Butter

Photo by Caroline West

Every chef has a stash of flavour enhancers and compound butter is one of the finest.

Combine room-temperature butter with herbs, spices and a squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar for a butter that enriches everything it touches.

The butter can be used right away or rolled in plastic-wrap and stored in the refrigerator — or freezer — until you need it.

At culinary school, we made a tame version with parsley and lemon juice, but you can add just about anything to butter.  I like it with jalapeno peppers and lime or anchovies and olives.  There are no rules when it comes to compound butter, so feel free to tinker with your favourite seasonings.

Once you have it on hand, you’ll be looking for excuses to use it.  Try it in soups, sauces, corn, seafood, beans, omelettes, steak, chicken, cornbread, mashed potatoes, quinoa, rice, risotto, sandwiches, roasted vegetables, pasta, polenta  …  butter has no bounds.

Recipe originally appeared in EAT Magazine May/June 2012

Cilantro Butter
1 ½ cups fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves (optional)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 – 4 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, chopped
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature

Phone by Caroline West

In the bowl of a food processor combine all the ingredients except the butter.  When the mixture resembles a fine purée, add the softened butter.  Alternatively, chop the herbs, garlic and peppers finely; add the sugar, salt, lemon juice and softened butter.  Check the seasoning, adding more peppers, salt and lemon as desired.  It should have a spicy kick and a tart finish.

Spoon the mixture onto a piece of parchment, wax paper or plastic wrap and roll into a cylinder.  Place in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.

Olive and Caper Butter
½ cup pitted olives, black and green varieties
3 anchovies fillets, mashed with a fork
2 Tbsp rinsed capers
1 ½ tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tsp hot sauce (Sriracha or chili paste)
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup of butter, softened to room temperature

Combine ingredients in the bowl of food processor and mix until well combined.  Alternatively, chop the olives, anchovies and capers finely; add the paprika, hot sauce, sugar, lemon juice and softened butter. Check the seasoning, adding more hot sauce, salt and lemon as desired.  It should be piquant with a smoky finish.

Spoon the mixture onto a piece of parchment, wax paper or plastic wrap and roll into a cylinder.  Place in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.

Comments
2 Responses to “Compound Butter”
  1. Tara says:

    I love having flavoured butter on hand. My favourite is to add lime zest and a bit of honey. Great on jalapeno cornbread with coleslaw and bbq ribs. I love the cylinder idea. So simple to portion what you need. You can also put it in small silicone chocolate moulds or miniature ice cube trays for shapes for a bit of whimsey. Chill until hard and then pop them out.

    • Denise says:

      I love the idea of butter in silicone moulds, Tara. Who doesn’t love delicious and adorable?

      I’ve never combined honey with lime, but I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

      In the summer, when herbs are so abundant I can barely keep up, I keep a stash of herb flavoured butters in the freezer.

      Everything really is better with butter. Julia Child was right all along.

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