Compound butters (beurre composé in French) are simply made of butter mixed with different ingredients to add flavor to meats, similar to a sauce. They’re also a fantastic accompaniment for breads, and even mashed potatoes. These flavorful butters add more than just another layer of flavor, but richness in mouthfeel with the eating experience.
In our post, Date Night, Steak Night, we used compound butter to take the flavor to a new level.
Compound butters are delicious spread on some bread, but can be used in any place where butter is called for, and are especially good in the summer during fresh corn season. –Sunday Brunch: Simple Rolls and Compound Butters, Kenji Lopez-Alt, Serious Eats
These flavored butters are simple, and once made they store very well in the freezer and the flavor options are endless! The three we made are honey cinnamon, garlic herb, and chipotle pepper with cilantro.
This recipe is the type where you can really play it by ear—the possibilities are endless! No need to measure everything to the gram.
Here are the simple steps:
Making Compound Butter
• 1 lb softened butter—60-68°F (16-20°C) Test the temp with an instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen Mk4® to be sure you’re in the right range.
• Flavor variation ingredients of choice—as needed (see flavoring ingredient combinations at the end of this post)
Step 1: Prepare flavor mix-ins. Chop, roast, mince, and otherwise assemble your ingredients.
Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, paddle the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Step 3: Add flavoring ingredients, mix on low speed until they are mixed into the butter uniformly.
Shaping the Butter into Logs for Slicing
Step 1: Using a spatula, scrape the soft butter onto a sheet of parchment paper (or waxed paper) and smooth into a log shape.
Step 2: Roll the butter into the parchment paper and shape by hand into an even log shape.
Step 3: Using a bench scraper or other sturdy straight edge, hold the butter log against the edge of your counter and tighten the roll to squeeze out as many air bubbles as possible.
Step 4: Roll up the butter into the remaining length of parchment paper, and freeze.
Step 5: Once frozen, unroll and cut into slices.
To give butter as a gift along with a loaf of freshly baked bread, secure the parchment roll with decorative tape and tag with the flavor description.
With flavor variations, keep in mind that all ingredients needs to be finely chopped, and contain very little moisture to combine well during mixing, and be spreadable. Salt and pepper can be added to your personal preference in any recipe, savory or sweet. Another fun option for additional texture is to sprinkle a fun salt like Maldon or smoked salt on top after spreading. It adds flavor and a little crunch. Try a sweet and salty combination like vanilla bean with honey with a little sprinkling of fleur de sel. C’est magnifique!
Variations and Applications:
- Red wine reduction, parsley, shallot, and lemon. Great with red meat and pork.
- Tarragon and orange zest. Great with finfish and shellfish.
- Port reduction. Great with beef and lamb.
- Shallot, parsley and garlic. Perfect for escargot.
- Gorgonzola and chives. Great with red meat.
- Vanilla bean and honey. Great with breads and pancakes.
- Honey lavender. Great with breads and pancakes.
- Dill and lemon zest. Great with salmon.
- Curry paste and cilantro. Great for cucumber tea sandwiches.
- Chives and dijon mustard. Great with steamed veggies and pork.
- Roasted red pepper (drained well). Great with grilled chicken.
- Fig preserves (or any fruit preserve). Great with breads and pancakes.
- Anchovies, garlic, and lemon zest. Great with grilled steak and sautéed vegetables.
- Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Great with poultry (especially a Thanksgiving turkey!).
- Cracked pink, black, or green peppercorns, thyme, lemon juice, and garlic. Great with beef and lamb.
- Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chopped walnuts. Great with breads and pancakes.