The reason why you can’t recreate your favorite restaurant dish at home could come down to a secret but simple flavor booster — compound butters. A classic beurre maître d’hotel — a mixture of lemon, parsley, and softened butter is often slipped atop of a just cooked steak or fish filet or stirred into your vegetable sides. Compound butters add both fat and flavor, always a winning combo.
Fortunately it’s a super easy thing to accomplish at home as well. And the combinations are nearly endless. Think blue cheese butter, roasted garlic & parsley, herb & lemon, bacon & bourbon, chipotle & lime, horseradish and chives, or porcini & Parmesan for an umami bomb. Sweet honey or maple and chopped nuts butters are amazing for breakfast breads or on a biscuit alongside some BBQ. Compound butters are also a great way to preserve the last bit of the seasons herbs or to make use of your citrus zest scraps after you have juiced or eaten the inside fruit.
What You Need:
1 stick softened butter
Your flavorings of choice
Waxed paper, plastic wrap, or parchment paper
What To Do:
You can use any combo of flavors that work well with your palate and finished dish. And adjust the amounts to taste. A basic guideline for an herb & citrus butter is ¼ cup chopped herbs and 1 tsp of zest per stick of butter.
You want enough ingredients so that their flavor and color is imparted but not too much or things can get grainy. Small amounts of deeply flavored liquids — red wine, port, whiskey, bourbon, espresso, or fresh squeezed juice — are great, just add slowly to make sure that you aren’t compromising the solidity of the finished butter.
Place the butter and ingredients on your cutting board, and using the knife, cut them all together until well mixed. Alternately you can mix in a bowl. (Or use a mixer for the whole thing.)
Lay out a sheet of parchment, waxed paper or plastic wrap on a flat surface and place the butter mixture along the front edge. Bring the edge up over the butter and roll tightly into a cylinder.
Twist the ends to seal the cylinders and then chill or freeze until firm. Compound butter will last about 3 months, well sealed, in the freezer.
Whenever you are ready to use, just slice off a ¼ inch thick coin and melt away.