Compound butters are the smart cook’s secret weapon.
Simple to make and even easier to use, compound butters can be prepared days or weeks in advance and can transform a simple dish into something extraordinary. With the tiniest bit of planning and a little bit of patience, you can create imaginative compound butters to suit any dish or occasion.
What is compound butter?
Nothing complicated here! Compound butter is simply butter that has one or more ingredients added to it. Garlic butter is probably the best known compound butter.
Anybody can make compound butter. Many simple compound butters require little or no cooking. Begin by softening the butter to room temperature (we recommend using unsalted butter). Once the butter is soft, just mix in your desired seasonings and any other ingredients.
Using compound butter
Compound butters can add a kick of flavor to just about anything – steamed vegetables, hot pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes or just smeared on a slab of fresh-baked bread. Compound butters are especially suited to grilling. Slice a round from a log of chilled compound butter, or spoon softened butter on top of a grilled steak or fish fillet – no other sauce required!
If you’re concerned about calories and cholesterol – don’t be. It doesn’t take a lot of these tasty butters to make a big impact on the flavor of any dish. A little dab is all you need, and at about 120 calories (or less) per tablespoon, a dollop of compound butter won’t blow your diet.
Here is one simple compound butter that will make any mushroom lover swoon. You can make other kinds of compound butters simply by changing the ingredients to fit your own personal taste – fresh herbs, citrus peel & juice, exotic spices and seasonings, even prosciutto or anchovies, are all good ingredients to try.
Wild Mushroom Compound Butter
1/2 oz dried porcini or other wild mushrooms
1 small shallot, minced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ lb unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
a few drops of truffle oil (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook,
stirring frequently, until the shallots become slightly translucent and softened,
about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Be sure to use boiling water since the mushrooms will not receive any additional cooking. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, then drain well, reserving the soaking liquid for other uses, if desired. Rinse the mushrooms briefly under cool running water and chop coarsely.
Add the softened butter to a small food processor and pulse a few times until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pulse the processor a few times to incorporate all the ingredients, but do not over process – you’ll want a few chunks of porcini and shallots for interest.
Cut a piece of plastic wrap, about 12 x 12, and lay it flat. Using a large spoon or spatula, put several dollops of the processed butter along one egde of the plastic wrap. Carefully roll the butter up in the plastic wrap so it forms a sort of sausage-shaped log. Don’t worry if it’s uneven at first – it will all come out fine in the end. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap tightly so the log of butter becomes smooth and even. Using a sharp knife or skewer, prick the plastic wherever there is a bubble to let the air escape. Tie the twisted ends of the plastic wrap with string or twine and place the rolled up log of butter into the refrigerator to chill & firm up. For best results, use the following day after the flavors have had a chance to blend and meld.
The log form makes it easy to slice rounds of the butter to top your favorite foods, but if you prefer, you can put some or all of the wild mushroom butter into a small jar or storage container for later use.
Wild Mushroom Compound Butter may be stored in the refrigerator for a week or more and can be frozen for several months.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
For even more news, information and recipes, sign up for the free Earthy Delights email newsletter.