Meat the Press Mondays [9/15/08]

For this week’s Meat the Press Mondays we are exploring compound butters as a way to improve a finished steak or a good white fleshed fish.  Compound butters are one of our favorite simple things to do in the kitchen lately.  It is essentially a technique used to flavor butter, which is then used to impart flavor to food in the cooking or finishing process.  The combination of flavors that you can give to compound butter are virtually endless.  Any food that tastes better with butter on or in it (i.e. everything) can benefit from compound butter.

There are a few simple steps used to make good compound butter.  The first and most important is to begin with soft, room temperature butter, preferably unsalted and not melted at all.  Place butter in a large mixing bowl and add any flavoring ingredients, seasonings, spices, etc.  Keep in mind that, except for in small amounts, such as a squeeze or two of citrus juice, liquids will not incorporate well with butter.  Using your hands and some disposable rubber gloves mix the butter and seasonings to thoroughly combine.  Next, with a rubber spatula, place the softened butter on a large piece of parchment paper.  Spread the butter lengthwise along the parchment paper from end to end keeping in mind the finished product is going to be a cylinder approximately the size of a paper towel tube.  Roll the parchment paper as you would paper towels and gather up the ends twisting in opposite directions, this will force the butter into an even cylindrical shape.  Place in the refrigerator until solid.  Your newly flavored butter is ready to use, cut off as much as you like and use with just about anything.

Here are a few recipes for some of our favorite compound butters:

1 lb unsalted butter
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1tsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Note: This is great used to top a finished steak.  Let the butter sit atop the steak while it is resting and the butter will become meltingly soft and maintain its creamy semi solid texture.

1 lb unsalted butter
zest from 1 orange, and 1 lemon
1tsp chopped parsley
1tsp chopped thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Note: This is a compound butter best used when roasting white fleshed fish,  when the fish is a few minutes away from being done add a few slices of this butter and let melt down the fish and mix with the pan juices us this as the sauce for serving the fish.

These flavorful butters are great on bread, proteins, veggies, in sauces, and as last minute flavor additions to almost any dish, savory or sweet.  Use your imagination, experiment and enjoy!

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Photo by joshbousel


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