While they may sound “fancy,” compound butters (beurre composé in French) are really simple and take only minutes to prepare. It’s basically just herbs, spices and/or other aromatic ingredients folded into softened sweet butter, rolled into a log, refrigerated, and then used to add wonderful flavor by melting bits of it over any hot dish you choose, from meats, fish and poultry, to vegetables or quinoa.
These butters will keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for months, and can be used at a moment’s notice to transform just about anything.
If you’re unsure which herbs pair well with which foods, a quick Google search will offer basic guidelines, but there are a few ingredients that honestly just seem to make everything better. A bit of salt, since you’ll be using unsalted butter, freshly cracked pepper, shallots and/or garlic make a good base. Thyme is a favorite herb, as it goes well with fish or chicken and most vegetables as well. Italian parsley adds a little bite and color and fresh mint freshens everything you put it on. Tarragon adds an almost licorice flavor that’s great on fish; sage and rosemary lend depth to poultry dishes.
The compound butter that follows came to me when I was looking for something to dress up a roasted asparagus dish for the holidays, but I was really craving Chicken Piccata. As it happens, all the flavors of the piccata sauce really go well with asparagus, so it seemed like a natural, and it was! The bonus was that I was able to use the leftover butter on some simply grilled chicken for a very Chicken Piccata-like dish without the work of making a sauce!
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl
Turn mixture out onto a piece of waxed paper, and form into a rough log shape. Use the waxed paper to mold the butter into a smooth log, twisting the end of the paper to seal.
|Refrigerate until firm, at least an hour. Slice into coins and serve with hot vegetables (roasted asparagus is great) or chicken. Store any extra in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 2 months.|
ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON-CAPER SAUCE
Preheat oven to 425°.
Clean asparagus and trim the tough stem ends. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish.Toss with a very small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with just a bit of salt.
Cook in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or just until tender.