The “secret” ingredient that makes your favorite dish at your much beloved restaurant so darn tasty.  That thing you can’t quite put your finger on.  That je ne sais quoi.  My guess, butter.

Simply stated, fat gives food flavor.  Fat is satiating.  And yes, there is definitely a time and place for butter.

While in Provence a few weeks ago, I had a piece of grilled lamb topped with anchovy butter at this cute, picturesque restaurant, Les Coquelicots, which is situated high in the hills and surrounded by vineyards.  The decidedly simple addition of anchovy butter elevated an already perfectly seared piece of lamb to another level.

Compound butter — essentially, butter mixed with any combination of herbs and spices — is a perfect way to liven up anything from grilled meats, to fish/seafood, to vegetables, to mushrooms, and then some.

My plan was to make a simple herbed butter, but as I got rolling and poked around in the pantry and refrigerator for ingredients, the possibilities became endless.  It’s amazing what you sometimes find stashed in the corners of your pantry and fridge.  Black garlic, fermented beans, countless flours (teff, rye, buckwheat, etc.), several varieties of dried chiles, nori and other sea vegetables, and so on… Ingredients I’ve used at one point or another, and intended to use again, but haven’t gotten to quite yet (but on my ever-growing mental list).

Before I knew it, had five bowls with different combinations of butter:

1.  Tarragon and Shallot
2.  Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil
3.  Anchovy and Chive
4.  Porcini and Red Wine
5.  Nori and Toasted Sesame Seed

Have you tried making compound butter?  Do you have a favorite one?  What do you like to do with compound butter?  Ideas?  Suggestions?  Would love to hear about it.

 

Will share some thoughts regarding how to utilize compound butter, as I have all sorts of ideas in store for it.

Okay, maybe just one for now…

Sauteed a combination of yellow and grey oysters and maitake mushrooms in the compound butter,  one batch in tarragon and shallot butter, the other in nori and toasted sesame butter.

All I can say is…simply delicious!

 

 Compound Butter

1. Add room temperature, softened butter to a mixing bowl.
2. Add herbs, spices, or other desired ingredients to the bowl with the butter and mix with a spoon/spatula until the herbs/spices are combined.
3. Place the butter in the center of a piece of parchment paper (wax paper or saran wrap).  With your spatula roughly shape the butter into a log.  Roll the bottom half of the parchment paper over the butter, and keep rolling until the butter is tightly wrapped in the parchment.  Twist the ends of the parchment. Secure with string.
4. Chill in the refrigerator.  You can also store in the freezer for several months.
Below are a few suggestions to get you started, but you can add just about any combination of herbs and/or spices to your butter.  You can make savory and even sweet (such as honey and lavender, cinnamon and vanilla) compound butters.

Tarragon and Shallot

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 tablespoon tarragon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons shallot, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 tablespoons dried tomatoes (packed in oil, drained), finely chopped
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Anchovy and Chive

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2-4 anchovy fillets to taste, pounded to a paste
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
sea salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Porcini Mushroom and Red Wine

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 tablespoons dried Porcini mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Place the wine in a small saucepan and allow it to reduce until you have a thick syrup.  It will cook down to just a tablespoon or two.  Keep a close eye on it, making sure it doesn’t burn.  Allow the wine to cool completely and add then mix into the butter with the rest of the ingredients.

Nori and Toasted Sesame Seed

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
2 teaspoons toasted black sesame seeds
1/2 sheet of toasted nori, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

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4 comments

Reply

What a gorgeous idea! The possibilities are endless. Love your photos too 🙂

Reply

What a gorgeous idea! The possibilities are endless. Love your photos too 🙂

Reply

great ideas, so many …. nice website too

Reply

great ideas, so many …. nice website too

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