Today I’m introducing the first in a series I’m calling "Building Blocks." These are very basic recipes or techniques—sometimes they’re really non-recipes—that just build on themselves. Once you start using them and have them around, they lend themselves to a million uses and you’ll find yourself throwing them in as secret ingredients to enhance whatever else you’re making.
Compound butter is an awesomely easy way to infuse flavor into foods. Take some butter, mix something into it—you have compound butter. That's it. It is a fancy name for something that's super simple. Simple, but it has magic powers and somehow manages elevate your chosen flavors in whatever lucky dish you've decided to crown with this heavenly concoction.
It also is an easy way to do double and even triple duty in a dish by creating one flavor base that will run as a unifying thread through multiple components in a dish. For example, a savory version can be used as a rub for a protein, as the base for a sauce, and to flavor vegetables.
Here are 2 super simple versions.
SweetFor an easy sweet example mix orange or lemon zest and a little sugar or honey (to taste) into room temp butter—it should be malleable—and blend together.
You can take this same idea a little further by adding a little orange liqueur and maybe a dash of cinnamon or clove. Throw that on toast, pancakes, waffles, or crepes and they just got fancified.
This is the compound butter I use most often for roasted chicken. It also makes a great base for a white wine sauce or herbed gravy. I’m including quantities here to give you a general idea, but there is no need to get too hung up on them. Customize to taste.
Herb-Lemon-Garlic Butter4 Tbsp of butter (preferably unsalted so you can control the amount)
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs of your choosing like Thyme, rosemary, basil, or oregano
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
Salt, about 1/8 tsp or to taste
Pepper, to taste
I’ll sometimes also add a little mustard for a slight variation on this butter.
Just mix it all together. Use a food processor if it looks too chunky—which might be the case if you’re using a more hardy herb like rosemary.
Stay tuned to see how I use this on my Go-To Roast Chicken.
If you’ve been following me for a while, this might look familiar. To be honest, I originally did a version of this post for another site I collaborated on that has now gone the way of the dodo. Since I do find this to be such an integral technique, this post is now reappearing here.