In modern French cuisine, prior to 1950, compound butters had a much greater purpose then they do today. If you’ll visit this French Cooking Terms page you’ll see several French recipes that instruct you to finish their preparation with this or that kind of butter.
Compound butters are prepared by adding any number of flavorings to the whole butter by either chopping in the items or using a food processor. The following recipe is only an example and today’s cooks use compound butter for dessert as well as entrees. Spices, herbs and protein can be added to compound butters and they are especially useful when using herbs that otherwise would turn black after being cut and exposed to air.
The kinds of compound butters you can make are without limits. Use berries for French Toast or pancakes. Wasabi for broiled meats and sea foods, cranberries for turkey and the list goes on and on. Adding hard chilled butter to finish a sauce is called monter or monte au beurre which gives the sauce an added flavor and sheen, and when you’ve incorporated some additional flavoring agent into the compound it just increases the gustatory profile. So you could add truffles, lobster, shrimp, saffron, herbs or caviar to just name a few.
My favorite is the classic Garlic Herb Butter
- Mixer, for best consistency
- Plastic wrap
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and salt and beat for a couple of minutes, or until fluffy. Add the garlic and parsley, stir to combine well. Transfer the the garlic herb butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, roll up to form a cylinder shape. Twist both ends tight and keep it in the refrigerator. They are ready to use when the butter becomes cold and solid.