There is a fast and easy way to zest up any meal. I’m talking about compound butter. A compound butter is simply softened butter that has had other flavorings mixed into it. These butters can serve to add flavor and color to other dishes and sauces and can even stand alone as an accouterment. During Thanksgiving I made a pound of garlic and herb butter that I used in everything from the turkey itself, to the stuffing, to having some at the table for guests to spread on rolls.
Compound butter is great because it is easy to make and gives you complete freedom to choose how to make it and how much. All you need to make a compound butter is unsalted butter, your flavor ingredients/additives, a bowl to mix it all in, and some wax paper or plastic wrap to store your butter once you are done.
The first step in making a compound butter is to allow your butter to soften so that you can mix in and incorporate your other ingredients. The key to this step is to only soften and not melt your butter. If your butter gets too soft you will not really be able to store it properly. If this does happen, just stick it back in the refrigerator to stiffen up a bit.
While the butter is softening you can take this time to prepare your flavor ingredients. You can keep it as simple as adding a single ingredient or make it more complex by adding a multitude of things. When I made my butter, I added fresh chopped garlic, shallots, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley and a bit of black truffles.
After you have prepared your additives, all you simply need to do is mix them into your butter. You can do this with a hand or standing mixer. I prefer to simply fold my butter and ingredients with a rubber spatula.
Once the butter and ingredients have been incorporated, lay out a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap and spoon the butter on the paper/plastic in a long column. Next, just roll the paper/plastic with the butter as to form a tube. Then, pinch and roll your ends kind of like a piece of taffy and you are done. Now store your butter in the fridge until needed. Compound butter slices very nicely and if you want to make it spreadable, just add a bit of olive oil when mixing it. Compound butter usually keeps for about 2-3 day, but it can be frozen for longer storage.
There you have it! Making compound butters is only limited by what you can think to put in them. You don’t have to stick with just savory butters. Think of how good a cinnamon and honey butter would go on some hot French toast!