Compound butter (also called finishing butter), is what many restaurants use to kick up the flavor of their dishes, especially meats. This is a flavored butter that is sold at a pretty big premium at supermarkets. Compound butter is something that everyone should learn how to make at home, not only because it is delicious, but you can tailor it elevate whatever dish you are preparing (and it saves a ton of $$). There are so many different flavor combinations that you could create, that your biggest challenge might be knowing when to stop :). Let's take a look at four that I made tonight.
I used a 2lb block of Amish hand rolled butter, and cut it to 4 equal parts. You can use pretty much any butter you have available, but grass-fed & European style butter will give you the best flavor. The biggest difference between European and US style butter is the way they are prepared. European style butter is a cultured butter that is churned a little longer to achieve a higher butterfat (at least 82%) content. It has a richer, tangy flavor, and melts quicker. US style is not cultured, has a more neutral flavor and has at least 80% butterfat. That 2% in fat content makes a pretty big taste difference.
Butter can sit out safely for up to 2 weeks without refrigeration. To make it easier to mix the butter with the herbs, I let it sit out overnight in separate covered containers so it would come closer to room temperature. If you have cats, make sure you cover these tightly...otherwise you'll end up with an obese cat and no compound butter.
Once the butter has softened up, the real fun begins. Like I mentioned earlier, you can use pretty much any ingredient to make compound butter. If you are using unsalted butter, you have more control on it's flavor. If its salted, keep an eye on how much salt you add (and what you plan to use it on).
Lemon Garlic Butter:
Zest 1 large lemon and mince 3-4 cloves of garlic. Add to the soft butter and mix well. Mix in a pinch of the sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. You can leave the butter as is in a container, and use right from there. You can also transfer it on a plastic wrap, and shape it into a log. This will make it easier to use on meats by cutting it into slices. If you are using the plastic wrap, make sure you twist the sides tightly so it maintains a uniform shape. Garlic & Lemon are a great addition to any meat & fish dishes.
Use a mixing bowl for each batch to easily combine the ingredients.
Shallot Tarragon Butter
Mince 1 medium shallot, and about 2-3 tsp of fresh tarragon. Add to the butter and mix in sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. This butter goes really with with fish and chicken. The shallot adds a mild onion flavor that pairs really with the anise/licorice flavor profile of Tarragon. Tarragon can quickly take over a dish, so keep an eye on how much you are adding.
Garlic Rosemary Butter
3 ingredients that pair really well with half the pantry & fridge. Commonly used with meats and fish, this also works really well with breads. Spread a bunch on a sliced baguette, throw it in the oven for a few minutes, and you''ll have some delicious garlic bread! To make this, we are using the same method as the other two butters above. Mince the garlic and rosemary, combine with the butter and mix in salt & pepper to taste.
There really wasn't a rhyme or reason why I picked those herbs...they just happened to be available, and I really like shallots. This butter will work well with any meats, but it will be best used on fish and chicken. ...I can vouch for that! Right after I made this batch, I mixed some of the butter with shredded Parmesan in a mixing bowl, and tossed in some chicken wings that were happily frying in the air fryer...winner winner chicken dinner!!!
Mince all the herbs and a medium shallot, combine with the salt and pepper, mix into the butter and enjoy!
Once you've created the 4 batches above, put them back in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using. This will make it easier to use once the butter has hardened again. It will happily stay fresh in the fridge for up to 7 days, but it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. Just give the herbs in the butter a chance to thaw if you are freezing the butter.
Play around with different flavors and create some butters that best fit your taste. Making pancakes or french toast?...make some cinnamon sugar compound butter! Mix some Latin flavors, or Asian flavors...Ginger/Wasabi butter on tuna steaks anyone?! Truffle Butter? Have fun coming up with different combinations and enjoy!