Whatever you’re cooking for Cinco de Mayo, spice it up with Jalapeño Compound Butter (recipe below). You can use it for cooking, as a garnish (a pat on the top of grilled meat, seafood, corn-on-the-cob), or as a bread spread.
WHAT IS COMPOUND BUTTER?
Compound butter (beurre composé), seasoned/flavored butter, is a staple of French cuisine. Almost any flavor can be blended into butter, which is then rolled into a log, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated. When needed, just cut a slice from the log.
For most of its life, compound butter was used as finishing butter: a pat to top hot proteins and vegetables, or blended with pan juices to make a sauce.
Perhaps the best-known compound butter in the U.S. is garlic butter, known as beurre d’ail or beurre à la bourguignonne in France. Italian-American garlic bread is an Americanized bruschetta, made with butter instead of olive oil.
The great French chef Escoffier (1846-1935) published 35 combinations in 1903. They included such classic combinations as anchovy butter with steak and seafood, Roquefort butter on steaks, beurre à la maître d’hotel (lemon parsley butter) with escargots, various herb butters for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables; and numerous nut, spice and wine butters.
As a truffle lover, we find truffle butter to be a transformational experience, whether used simply on pasta or in a more elaborate preparation. We can have a joyous meal of only a fresh baguette and a tub of D’Artagnan truffle butter.
You may not cook French cuisine, but if you like butter, you can incorporate compound butters into much of what you do make: grilled meats and seafood, pasta, potatoes, rice and other grains, eggs, anything that needs a butter sauce.
Use your favorite flavors: the classics or more modern additions to American cuisine, such as curry, hot sauce, lavender, wasabi…you can think of dozens of great pairings.
Consider combinations such as:
RECIPE #1: JALAPEÑO COMPOUND BUTTER
This recipe, from Gordy’s Pickle Jar, uses Gordy’s Thai Basil Pickled Jalapeños. Or, you can pickle your own (recipe below).
This recipe is for a small batch: good for testing and then adjusting the ingredients.
1. SLICE the stick of butter into eight pieces and place it in a stainless steel bowl. Let it soften to room temperature.
2. ADD the diced jalapeños and the brine and blend with a wooden spoon until the jalapeños are evenly distributed. Using the back of the spoon, shape the butter into a ball and transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap.
3. WRAP the butter in the plastic wrap and shape it into a log. Refrigerate the wrapped log and chill at least 1 hour to harden. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and slice into whatever size you need.
This quick-pickling recipe is meant for short-term consumption and storing in the fridge. Do not use it to “put away” pickles. You may wish to cut the recipe in half if you won’t be using the pickled jalapeños for any other purpose (burgers, salads, jalapeño mayonnaise, etc.).
*You can add sugar to the brine, but make a batch without it first. It’s healthier, and it will let the flavor of the spices shine through.
1. SLICE the jalapenos and place in a jar (for compound butter, mince). Cover with white or white wine vinegar (alternative: use half vinegar and half salted water). Add your favorite spices to the brine.
2. ADD the jalapeños to the brine, making sure that the brine covers the jalapeños. Let sit overnight, although if you’re in a pinch, you can use them after an hour of marinating. They just won’t have a more complex flavor.