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Better Butter…‘Cause It’s Got Stuff in It!



A bevy of butters!

From left to right: Honey Butter, Mexican Chocolate Butter,

Roasted Garlic Butter, Masala Butter, Chive Butter, & Dill Butter.

One of the easiest and most delicious ways to get extra flavor into your dishes is with compound butter.

What’s compound butter? Well, like the title says, it’s butter with stuff in it. Traditionally, the butter is whipped and mixed with herbs and/or lemon juice (or other liquids). The butter is spread onto cling film or parchment, rolled into a log, and refrigerated until hard. Slices of the butter can then be stirred into a sauce at the end of cooking or melted on top of a grilled fillet of beef or fish. The goal of compound butter is to make whatever you’re about to eat that much more luscious.

But since butter is so versatile, I like to play with it. I add spices, aromatics like garlic, or something a little sweet. And I use it throughout the cooking process—not just at the end of a dish. That way, the flavor of the butter really gets into the soul of the food itself. Mushrooms sautéed in chive compound butter until golden brown take a Marsala sauce or homemade soup to the next level.

I’ve included the recipes for six compound butters here: three savory and three slightly sweet. All of these recipes follow the same basic technique—you’ll find them in the recipe for the Chive Compound Butter. Just remember to start with softened, unsalted, and preferably hormone-free butter.

You can also make these butters vegan by using a comparable amount of vegan margarine. Since margarine tends to contain salt, reduce or omit the amount of salt in the recipes.

These recipes can also be doubled. Plus, they make great gifts: don’t even bother to roll the whipped butter in cling film; just glop it neatly into a plastic or glass container, decorate with a bow or bit of raffia, and give it away with a loaf of good bread.

These butters keep in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 weeks but they can also be sliced and frozen for up to 6 months.

Chive Compound Butter

I have a huge and miraculous chive plant that has survived four transplants. It produces so many chives that I am able to make and freeze enough chive butter to get me through several winter months. Honestly, it’s my absolute favorite compound butter. It’s delicious cooked with potatoes or spread on toasted ciabatta and served alongside a frittata. I even got one of my sisters-in-law addicted to the stuff!

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon of salt (I use fine sea salt)

½ cup of chopped fresh chives

Add the butter and salt to a mixing bowl. With a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed for 1 – 2 minutes or until the butter is whipped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the chives and beat on low for 30 seconds until they are well-combined with the butter. You can also do this by hand with a rubber spatula.

Place a piece of cling film or parchment paper (about 15 inches long) on the counter or cutting board. Spread the butter lengthwise in the middle of the cling film.


Cover the butter with the bottom part of the cling film. Roll the butter toward the top of the cling film, making sure the film is tight. As you’re rolling the butter, shape it evenly into a log (it does not have to look perfect). Twist the ends of the cling film. Place the butter into the refrigerator for at least one hour before using.


To use, cut slices of the butter off the log. Store the log wrapped in the cling film and then in a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Or, you can store the butter in the freezer for up to 6 months. Cut the butter log into equal-sized slices. Place the slices (make sure they’re not touching) on a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Place the pan in the freezer until the individual slices of butter are frozen solid. Remove the butter from the pan and place in a freezer-safe plastic container or zip-top freezer bag. Return the butter to the freezer until ready to use. Taking this extra step to freeze the sliced butter individually makes it easier to use in the future—you can pull the exact amount you need from the freezer without having to hack pieces from the butter log.


Serving Suggestions: Spread on toasted or grilled ciabatta or baguette; add to sautéed mushrooms; mushroom soup; roasted chicken or chicken noodle soup; potatoes; carrots; parsnips; eggs (I particularly like to sauté mushrooms, onions, and spinach in chive butter, add a few beaten eggs, some Sriracha, and feta cheese, and then top the whole thing with halved and salted grape tomatoes); filet mignon or rib eye; or add to spaetzle or other homemade dumplings.

***

Dill Compound Butter

Dill butter is strange: somehow, it manages to be delicate and pack an herby punch at the same time. It’s delicious!

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon of salt (I use fine sea salt)

3 TBS of chopped fresh dill

Add the butter and salt to a mixing bowl. With a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed for 1 – 2 minutes or until the butter is whipped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the dill and beat on low for 30 seconds or until it is well-combined with the butter. You can also do this by hand with a rubber spatula.

Follow the rest of the steps listed in the Chive Compound Butter recipe.

Serving Suggestions: Top poached or grilled salmon; mix with boiled skin-on new potatoes; use as a base for dill pickle soup (yes, it’s a thing!); spread on toasted pumpernickel and top with slices of smoked salmon, slices of hard-boiled egg and radishes, or caviar; spread on a toasted “everything”, onion, or garlic bagel and then top that with cream cheese (I know, it’s a bit much but give it a try anyway); or mix with hot cooked egg noodles, sour cream, salt, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

***

Roasted Garlic Compound Butter

Garlic is wonderful! I eat it in one form or another almost every day—even for breakfast! But when garlic is roasted, it reminds me of jam, albeit a slightly pungent, caramel-y, savory jam! And what goes best with jam? Butter, of course! And that’s why this particular compound butter just may be edging out the chive butter as my favorite.

Try adding herbs to this butter. Flat-leaf parsley or chopped rosemary would be delicious in it.

1 bulb of garlic

Olive oil

Pinch of sea salt

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon of salt (I use fine sea salt)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Keep the skin on the bulb of garlic; however, if there is any loose papery skin, remove and discard it. Slice the bulb of garlic in half widthwise. Place each half on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle each half with olive oil and sprinkle a bit of sea salt on it. Put the halves together and wrap the foil around the bulb.

Place the garlic on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes. Wearing an oven mitt, carefully pinch the sides of the foil package. If the garlic feels squishy, remove it from the oven. If it’s still slightly firm, return to the oven for an additional 5 – 10 minutes.

Once you remove the garlic from the oven, let it rest for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil from the garlic. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into a mixing bowl and mash immediately with a fork. Set aside to cool completely.

Add the softened butter and salt to the cooled garlic. With a hand mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 – 2 minutes or until everything is well-combined.

Follow the rest of the steps listed in the Chive Compound Butter recipe.

Serving Suggestions: Spaghetti sauce; lentils and lentil soup; sautéed pork medallions; sautéed mushrooms or eggplants; cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or cabbage; rub under the skin of chicken or turkey before roasting; and of course, garlic bread!

To make garlic bread:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) Split a baguette in half. Spread each half with as much Roasted Garlic Compound Butter as you like. Sprinkle additional salt on each side if you’d like.

3) Wrap the baguette tightly in foil.

4) Place the baguette on a sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

5) Carefully unwrap the baguette and open it. Bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes or until the bread is just golden brown.

6) Remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Cut and serve.

***

Honey Butter

When I was little, my cousin—who is only 18 hours younger than I am (yeah, we made the local paper)—had a sleepover for her birthday. I was well-impressed at breakfast the next morning when my aunt served pancakes slathered with butter and warm honey. I can still taste them now because back then, I approached that breakfast like Winnie-the-Pooh. My face and hands were sticky, my belly was full, and I was so very happy.

This simple little butter is an homage to the Pooh in all of us!

If you’re vegan, don’t fret. Whip vegan margarine with agave nectar (half the amount of honey) or date syrup (same amount as the honey). Or, even better, play around with the amounts and let your taste buds be the judge.

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon of salt (I use fine sea salt)

¼ cup honey

With a hand-mixer, beat the butter and salt on medium-high speed for 1 minute. While the mixer is running, slowly drizzle in the honey. Beat for an additional minute until well-combined.

Follow the rest of the steps listed in the Chive Compound Butter recipe.

Serving Suggestions: Warm pancakes, French toast, or biscuits; spread on matzos; make a peanut butter and honey butter sandwich; add to carrots and radishes with some cumin, salt, & pepper for a buttery honey glaze; top grilled chicken; use in place of sugar in your favorite noodle kugel recipe.

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The last two butters both contain brown sugar and spices. It takes a bit longer to make because you want the sugar to meld nicely with the butter. Consequently, more air is whipped into this butter and so it has more volume than the herb butters.

Follow the same procedure as before; however, when you spread the butter down the middle of the cling film, cover it loosely and then put it into the refrigerator for 5 – 10 minutes. When you remove the butter from the fridge, it will be a bit harder and easier to roll tightly in the cling film.

Mexican Chocolate Compound Butter

This is the buttery version of Mexican hot chocolate with a little extra spice added in. Start with a pinch of cayenne, taste, and use more if you want.

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

4 tsp dark brown sugar

½ tsp dark cocoa powder

¼ tsp salt (I use fine sea salt)

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Add the butter to a mixing bowl. With a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar one teaspoon at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1 – 2 minutes until well-combined. Taste the butter for both heat and texture. Add more cayenne pepper if you’d like. If the brown sugar is still quite gritty, beat the butter for a few more minutes; however, you’re not making butter cream frosting so if the brown sugar doesn’t completely “melt” into the butter, it’s okay—it will when it’s added to hot food.

Follow the rest of the steps listed in the Chive Compound Butter recipe.

Serving Suggestions: Spread on warm cornbread or grilled corn; mix in hot cereal (polenta, grits, chocolate malted cereal, cream of rice, or cream of wheat); use in your favorite butter coffee recipe; if you use cocoa in your chili, sauté your veggies in it; spread on warm dark pumpernickel bread (eat by itself or top with a Brie and pinch of additional cocoa powder); or use it as the base for homemade cinnamon rolls.

***

Masala Compound Butter

I call this “Butter Chicken Butter” but don’t worry, it’s vegetarian! It just has almost every Indian spice that I use in the sauce for my Butter Chicken and Paneer Butter Masala recipes. You should be able to find all of these spices at your local supermarket with perhaps the exception of fenugreek (if you can’t find it, use curry powder instead).

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 TBS dark brown sugar