Friday, December 2, 2016

Chipotle and Orange Compound Butter

Earlier this month, I went to an event sponsored by Sprouts (they're a supermarket, if you don't know) and the Colorado Beef Council and hosted at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association office. It was an office, people. Not a cattle ranch.

The food was amazing (prime rib!) and we had a chance to play around in their kitchen.

I was in the group that made a compound butter and also I also rubbed the beef roasts before it was put into pans to get browned before roasting.

Other groups did other things, like making a pan sauce. and rubbing other beef roasts with different rubs. There were several different beef roast preparations demonstrated, with different rubs, and different sides. One group plated one of the meals, while the rest of it was served on platters for easier serving.

We got to sample all of it, and there were also wine pairings discussed. I had quite a long way to drive, so I didn't indulge in any wine, but I like that they explained which ones paired best with different dinners.

So back to the compound butter. (Sorry, but I got distracted by all that beef!)

We made a bunch of rather large batches of the compound butter in our group, but the recipe they sent along was for a much more reasonable amount - it uses just one stick of butter, so it's probably enough for most home uses. And of course, you can double, triple, or make four pounds of it, if that's what you really want to do.

It's a good idea to start with softened butter, to make the mixing easier. In their kitchens, the people doing the mixing tried using spoons or spatulas, but some of them dug right in and used their properly-gloved hands to mix the butter.

At home, I'd just chuck it all into a food processor or use my stand mixer. That's why I own those things - to be my worker bees.

So what can you do with compound butter? Pretty much anything you do with regular butter. Except you need to be mindful of what you added. A cinnamon and honey compound butter would be great on pancakes. A chipotle compound butter would not be so great on pancakes.

Well, maybe it would be. You try first. I'll be waiting here.

This particular compound butter (recipe below) could be melted on top of some meat or vegetables. I happened to get a sample of it to take home, and I used it when I cooked some itty bitty potatoes in my sous vide machine. You could also boil potatoes and put the butter on afterwards. Or use it to cook vegetables for fajitas. Or put it on some cornbread to go with your chili.

Speaking of beef, the one thing that really surprised me was that the chef brined the beef before cooking. I'd never heard of brining beef before. I've brined chicken, turkey, and pork plenty of times. Never beef.

The brine recipe that they gave us was pretty simple - 2 gallons of water, 2 cups of kosher salt, and one cup of sugar. Let the beef sit in that overnight, and then roast it as usual. They used a rub on the beef, but the interesting thing to me was the brine. I think I'm going to have to try that one of these days.

Chipotle and Orange Compound Butter
Adapted from a recipe courtesy of the Colorado Beef Council and the National Cattlemen's Association

1 stick unsalted* butter, at room temperature; not melted
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon or the zest of one orange
Salt, to taste

Mix it all together using your hands (wear food-safe gloves) or mix in a food processor or with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

You can mix just to blend the ingredients, or keep beating it until it's lighter in color and fluffy. That whipped butter will be easier to scoop and spread.

Form into a log, wrap in parchment or plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Once you have a log and it's chilled, it's easy to lop off pieces to use. For longer storage, you can freeze it.

Or, if you don't want a log, you could put the butter into little ice cube trays or silicone candy molds or use a little disher to make little balls. Use them at refrigerator temperature or freeze, remove from the molds, then toss them into a zip-top bag and tuck them back into the freezer. Over time, they might start to stick together, but for short term storage, they'll stay reasonably separate.

Or, you could put the butter into a container and chill it that way. It just depends on how you're going to be using it, and what's most convenient for serving.

*Restaurants would normally use unsalted butter then add salt to taste. You can use salted butter, if you like. You probably won't need to add more salt, but taste it when it's done and see what you think.

Thanks to Sprouts and the Colorado Beef Council and the National Cattleman's Association for the fun event and the swag bag that came home with me.