With butter no longer unfairly demonized, it’s time to start appreciating it again. Even when used sparingly, butter is one of the best vehicles for flavor out there. Of course, other fats are great too. But butter is at the top of my list, because it’s so easy to add flavor to it.
It’s the details that make good food move to great, a good meal a great one. Compound butter is one of those details.
Compound butters are so easy to make. You can have several different ones on hand at any time. You’ll love compound butters because they allow you to add a burst of flavor to so many dishes in so many ways so quickly.
For no more than half an hour of work, you can easily have four or five great flavor bombs to add to chicken, meats, fish and pasta. You can also spread these on toast or crackers. You can use them on roasted potatoes.
Just imagine the possibilities.
Let’s go with some basics here that should appeal to just about anyone.
- Herb butter. Using parsley, thyme and basil, this is a great delicate butter for roasted or grilled fish or chicken, or great on pasta with some grated parmesan.
- Garlic butter. Who doesn’t love garlic butter? You can make this would simply fresh chopped garlic, or better yet our garlic confit. Or if you’re really in a hurry, you can use some dry roasted garlic powder from the supermarket. Spread this on your favorite baguette, beats store bought any day.
- Citrus olive butter. I recommend using fresh Kalamata olives from an olive bar, but you can use your choice. Add some freshly grated lemon zest and that’s it. Wonderful on fish.
- Anchovy butter. Make sure you get some good quality anchovies for this. My preferred brand is Merro. Also good on fish or steak.
- Sun-dried tomato and caper butter. For this butter, you can use our oven roasted tomatoes, or by sun-dried tomatoes in oil. If you do use oven roasted tomatoes, roast them until they are on the dry side. Capers in brine are okay, but I prefer salted capers which you can find at some specialty gourmet markets or online on Amazon. My preferred brand is Il Mongetto-they’re called Capperi Al Sale in Italian. Love this on a crusty baguette, or on fish or chicken.
Be sure to use a good quality unsalted butter. I prefer Plu Gras among US made butters. I also really like the Italian butter from Costco with the Ferrarini brand. For those butters that don’t have salty ingredients (herb butter and garlic butter0, add salt to taste.
For the olive butter, anchovy butter, or sundried tomato and caper butter, mix the ingredients in first then add salt if needed. If you are using salted capers be sure to rinse well or even soak in a few changes of water held a few minutes each time. They tend to be extremely salty. For brined capers, rinse well and taste.
You can make a big batch of one type of butter, then use plastic wrap to roll it into a log and freeze, then just slice off rounds when you need it. Or, use a mini muffin tin and fill each cavity like you see here. Works great for table size portions and the presentation is so nice. Just run some warm water over the back to release, and you’ll have a perfect dome of butter. You could also use flexible silicone molds too.
For all your flavored butters, do make sure you let them sit for a couple of hours before using, as this helps infuse the butter with the flavors of your additions.
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon blend of chopped fresh thyme basil and parsley or
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers and sundried tomatoes or 1/2 and 1/2
- 1 tablespoon garlic confit or
- 1 tablespoon chopped kalamata olives and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest or
- 1/2 tablespoon anchovies mashed
- Place room temperature butter and your addition in a bowl. Mash with a fork to mix well.
- Season with salt if needed.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and roll into a small log, refrigerate for several days or freeze for up to 3 months. Cut into circles as needed.
- If you prefer, place butter into mini muffin tins, press to fill and freeze. Remove by running a bit of hot water over back of tin, then transfer to plastic bag and refrigerate or freeze.