Compound butter. Compound butters get great meal on the table fast!
Dress up simply cooked vegetables with compound butters
Easy 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:
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!