Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Compound Butter

Compound butter is one of those culinary wonders ~ it is incredibly easy to make, very impressive to serve and it leaves you full of possibilities! Knowing how to make and use compound butter will considerably increase your culinary repetoire. It takes just plain old butter from ordinary to extraordinary in just a few simple steps. By understanding the technique outlined below, you will be adding a wonderful new skill to your cooking adventures!
1. Compound butter defined
Compound butter sounds much more daunting than it actually is! Really, it's just softened butter that has been whipped with other ingredients. Easy!

2. Temperature is important
Soften your butter before you mix it with any other ingredient. You don't want your butter too cold, otherwise it will not blend completely with whatever flavors you are adding. You also don't want your butter melted, as this will also impede your flavors from melding.

3. Where to use compound butter
Compound butter can be a fabulous topper for a grilled steak or chop. A dollop of compound butter on top of a warm cut of meat will have a beautiful presentation. The butter will melt into the meat, imparting a wonderful, rich flavor. You can also serve compound butter with a baguette as a snack or meal accompaniment. Don't forget that you can also use compound butter for delicious desserts and sweet breakfast dishes.

4. Storage
Keep your compound butter in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for several months and just use what you need.

5. Suggestions
Fresh herbs pair so well with butter. Try parsley, thyme or rosemary, then rub under the skin of a chicken before roasting. To top meats, try roasted garlic, fresh garlic, chives or caramelized onions. For a sweet alternative to use on toast, pancakes or waffles, try brown sugar, a combination of cinnamon and sugar or berries. You can also get really crazy by adding multiple ingredients like balsamic vinegar, onions and garlic.

Roasted garlic compound butter:

1 stick of softened, salted butter
1 head of garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt, black pepper
parchment paper

Cut the top off the garlic head and drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper. Wrap in tinfoil and place in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. Cool completely. Holding garlic upside down, squeeze out the cloves (they should be golden and soft) into the butter. Mix completely. Form into a log shape in the parchment paper and refrigerate for one hour. Use a melon baller to make steak toppers, or cut into slices to serve with bread.

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