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Compound Butter

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Compound butter or beurre composé has been around for a long time. It’s an easy condiment and was used frequently in restaurants back in the day. A couple classic versions are maitre d’hotel butter which is thyme and lemon juice and beurre a la Bourguignonne which is butter and garlic.

The Chez Panisse version that was quite the rage was garlic that had been simmered to soften its flavor blended with white wine vinegar and cayenne.

The variations are limited only to one’s imagination. I have seen many versions including sardine butter, truffle butter, herbed goat cheese butter, and horseradish butter. Herbs and citrus zest are frequently a component. Sweet versions are common as well, integrating cinnamon and other baking spices as well as honey, maple syrup and citrus zest again. Perfect for topping French toast or pancakes.

To make a compound butter,  you simply soften butter and mix in whatever sounds good to you. The savory versions are amazing on grilled seafood - magnificent on grilled shrimp or lobster. Grilled steak with compound butter is a beloved favorite. It works well with the baked potato that usually came along too.

Vegetables of any kind are friendly to the rich flavor of compound butter. It is easy to make a delicious pan sauce by deglazing the pan used for cooking or searing and adding a compound butter to the reduced liquid until the sauce emulsifies.

Since the purpose of compound butters is to take big flavorful ingredients and use butter as the delivery system, it occurred to me that McEvoy Ranch tapenades might make interesting compound butters. Indeed they do.

I tried the Black Olive Tapenade with a little orange zest and chopped tarragon melted onto grilled swordfish - scrumptious. I put a little lemon zest and fresh thyme in the Olive and Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade and topped roasted vegetables. The Artichoke and Almond Tapenade didn’t seem to need anything additional, only one of my favorite local butters, Strauss Family. My guests and I very much enjoyed warm sourdough bread with that delightful combo.

Additional ideas:

  • Baked oysters
  • Parchments with fish or vegetables
  • Steamed clams or mussels
  • Pasta, gnocchi, or rice
  • Polenta or grits
  • Baked or mashed potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Soup garnish
  • Roasted chicken
  • Grilled anything!

Here are the ingredients ready to be mixed. I use a bowl and a wooden spoon but if you are doing a large batch, a food processor is handy.

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Place the mixed ingredients in a line on a piece of parchment to start forming a log.

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Use a bench scraper or a knife to start pressing the ingredients into a log.

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Press until you have a tight log.

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Wrap the butter blend in the parchment and tie or turn over the ends. Wrap in plastic wrap and use within a week or freeze for as long as a month.

Compound butter is such a nice little ace to have on hand. I am sure you will find many ways to be creative! Let me know what ingredients you selected in the comments section...I’m always curious to see what others do.

 

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