Even without a food processor or hand mixer, a compound butter is honestly one of the easiest sauces to make. The key to making it an easy process is to make sure the butter is at room temperature before you try to mix any ingredients in. The best way to accomplish this is to plan ahead and leave your butter on the counter for a couple of hours, but if you’re short on time, don’t try to soften the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan – that always melts the butter too much and renders it useless to you. Instead, boil some water and pour it into a metal bowl. Let the bowl heat up for a minute or two and then carefully pour out the water and invert the bowl over the stick of butter. It will give the butter just enough heat to soften gently.
Because there are so few ingredients in a compound butter, it is critical that all the ingredients be very high quality. That means buy the best cultured butter that you can find. Cultured butter is a butter made from cream that has been fermented (cultured) before it is churned, allowing micro-organisms to sour the milk slightly giving it so much more flavor. You’ll find cultured butters in the grocery store, marked accordingly. It’s also wise to use an unsalted cultured butter. That way, you won’t risk over-salting the butter should you be adding salty ingredients (like anchovies). Buy unsalted butter and then season it to taste.
While I do find using a food-processor makes this easy to make, I often chop my ingredients by hand before combining them with the butter. If you put everything into the food processor at one time, the color of the flavoring ingredients will bleed into the butter and change the overall look. For instance, fresh herb butter will be green if you process everything together. There are times you might want this, but in general, it’s more pleasant to see flecks of flavor in the butter.
- Buy the best quality cultured butter you can find.
- Use unsalted butter and season it to taste.
- Make sure the butter is at room temperature before you start.
- For a prettier butter, use hand-chopped ingredients and mix them into the butter.
- Store well-wrapped in the freezer for up to three months.