Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Compound Butter - it's not complex

Compound butter is so simple to make, but it's also sort of magical to have on hand. On those days when you don't want to think too hard, you can use the butter to add flavor where you need it. You can cook with it, you can spread it on, or you can let it gently melt.

From left to right, Italian, Greek, Chili-Lime, and Bourbon Maple compound butters.

The combinations are endless, but here are four to get you started. Two are savory, one is savory and spicy, and one is sweet.

I started with half-sticks of butter, but of course you can make more - a full stick or a full pound, depending on how much you need. If you're making a lot, you can do the mixing in a food processor, but for a small amount, a fork works just fine.

The butter should be softened enough so you can mix it easily, but you don't want it melted. Leave it at room temperature until you can mash it with a fork.

Italian Compound Butter
If you can't find tomato powder locally, you can order it online. I get mine from Savory Spice Shop. You could also use tomato paste, if you like.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon tomato powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Add this butter to pasta, or cook chicken or pork in this butter and a bit of olive oil. Spread it on French bread, then add cheese and toast it.

Greek Compound Butter
Pink peppercorns aren't "real" peppers, but they have a spicy peppery flavor and add pretty pink flecks to the butter. If you don't have them, you can use regular ground pepper.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon lemon powder (I used Real Lemon)
Several grinds pink peppercorns

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Nice with rice, or for cooking fish, chicken, or lamb. Melt a small dollop on top of a finished steak. Spread it on the bread when you make a chicken sandwich.

Chili Lime Compound Butter
You could use chili powder (which is a blend of pepper and spices) or chile powder (which would be one type of pepper, ground). Or, if you want something really spicy, you could use cayenne. Or, you could also use hot paprika.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon lime powder (I used Real Lime)
1/8 teaspoon chili powder or chile powder.

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Add a bit to grilled fruit or spread it on corn on the cob. Great on cornbread. Use it, with a little olive oil, if you like, to cook fish, chicken, shrimp, or pork.

Maple Bourbon Compound Butter
Grade B maple syrup is darker and has stronger flavor than Grade A. I prefer it for most recipes.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 teaspoon maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
1/4 teaspoon bourbon

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Use it to top your pancakes or French toast. Spread on cornbread or muffins. Rub it on chicken or pork before roasting. Spread a little on bread for a turkey or ham sandwich.

Want some actual recipes? I'm working on it!
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