Compound butter or “beurre composse” in French is simply unsalted butter mixed with other ingredients that add sweet or savory flavor, like honey, herbs, or garlic. This creamy spread can be easily added to meats, and sauces sides to add extra flavor. Compound butter is commonly used in the French cooking technique, especially for creating sauces.
The original French masters would bring butter to room temperature, add finely chopped herbs, roll the mixture tightly with parchment paper. Then they would store it at a cold temperature. Most people think of garlic herb flavor profile for a compound butter, It’s commonly served with bread at a restaurant. In fact, Maître d’hôtel is named after the creations of butter the head waiter in a restaurant would make in front of the guests. Picture table-side Caesar salad.
Simply allow unsalted butter to soften at room temperature. Do not use heat to speed up the process of making it. Resist that temptation of popping the stick of butter in the microwave. The melted butter will separate the fat from the milk solid and never really solidify correctly. This changes the texture, and taste and we don’t want to do that! Once it is softened add the butter and the other ingredients of your choice to a mixing bowl and combine. There are so many flavor combinations to add to your softened butter, like mushrooms! Your ingredients can be chopped, crumbled or roasted before mixing with the softened butter. Place this mixture on parchment paper and form a log. Then refrigerate till it’s solid again. Remove from fridge unwrap and slice to the desired size. It generally lasts for about one month refrigerated.
Now use your rounds to enhance the flavor in various dishes. They can be heated for a sauce, just use the cut rounds and added to a dish. It will enhance steaks, chicken, fish, and vegetables. You can also use the rounds as a flavor-enhancing edible garnish. Simply spread a thawed round on bread or crackers. You can also add it to rice, potatoes, and pasta. Want to be trendy… jump on the butter board bandwagon.
What I like to do is treat compound butter as a sauce. During your downtime make the butter. Then just pop a couple rounds into your dishes, reducing your time from order to plating. This ultimately keeps the customers happy and not complaining about your slow service. After all, we are in the service business.
I spent the day in Ginsberg’s test kitchen creating the gamut of compound butters from scampi, bacon & blue cheese to sauteed mushroom. All the recipes used in the video are available here.