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Compound butter. Compound butters get great meal on the table fast!

Updated on April 20, 2013

Dress up simply cooked vegetables with compound butters

Easy compound butters

Compound butters

Having a couple of good compound butters in the freezer gives you an easy way to add a complex flavor note to any quickly grilled or sautéed meat.

A compound butter is simply butter with the addition of some flavorful ingredients. Pretty complicated huh?

These are generally added after the cooking has been completed, as a pat of butter onto the food. A great example of this is a grilled or pan seared rib steak, with a pat of gorgonzola butter, or sautéed whitefish, with a simple pat of lemon zest butter melting over the top. The butter enriches, flavors, and provides the sauce for a simply cooked, and pure tasting meal. They can also serve as a substitute for plain-Jane butter on bread, as a quick and easy sauce for fresh noodles, as an enrichment in a pan sauce or on simply boiled or steamed vegetables.

This is a real chef's secret and the use of flavored butters is a 10 second way to transport the every day to the special occasion.

The technique is pretty basic. Let some butter soften to the point that it can be easily mixed, and add whatever herbs and other flavorings' to the butter as desired. This is commonly rolled into a tube shape in saran wrap, and frozen. This makes it very easy to later simply slice off an appropriate amount for your meal, and refreeze the rest.

You can add just about anything that you think would compliment a future dish, and both liquid and solid ingredients can be added. A cup of butter can take as much of ¼ cup of a liquid, and still maintain an appropriate texture when chilled.

Some chefs will use a food processor to process a compound butter, but a better texture can be produced simply by finely chopping an ingredient, and then mixing by hand, preferable with a big old wooden spoon.

Some common flavored butters are:

Garlic butter

Add a 2-3 of Tbls of finely minced garlic to about1 cup of butter

Garlic herb butter

Add garlic as above, and as well add 3tbls of finely chopped fresh herbs. The herbs can be whatever you have on hand basically, but herbs such as chives, basil, tarragon will work particularly well.

Lemon butter (great for fish or shellfish)

Mix together 1 cup of softened butter with 3 Tbls of lemon zest, and a couple of Tbls of lemon juice. Also a bit of parsley if desired.

Blue cheese butter (perfect for melting over a steak)

1 cup butter mixed with 1/3 cup of blue cheese of your choice

Maple syrup butter (your perfect all in one pancake butter/syrup solution!)

¼ cup of good real maple syrup mixed with the butter.

Use your imagination to create your own easy and delicious compound butters. Any herbs, dried fruits, nuts, olive oil, port wine, red wine, champagne, anchovies, shellfish…whatever you can think of!

A simply salt and pepper grilled tilapia fillet with a lemon butter pat meting over the top is a beautiful thing, and can have an elegant dinner on the table in about10 minutes!


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    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 10 years ago

      That sounds really good Katherine!

    • Katherine Baldwin profile image

      Katherine Baldwin 10 years ago from South Carolina

      I have used these butters before and they add an elegant addition to most any dish. Garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest butter over slightly steamed asparagus is devine. It's my version of 'kind of' low cal hollandaise. I am inspired to use them again. Thanks for the reminder.

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 10 years ago

      1 cup of butter can absorb about 1/4 cup of a liquid, without seperating.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Does the maple syrup separate from the butter at all?

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 10 years ago

      I hope you enjoy them! An easy way to flavor and sauce in seconds.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      Sounds delicious, as always.

    • Debbie Cook profile image

      Debbie Cook 10 years ago from USA

      great idea!