I can’t tell you how long the idea of compound butter has been around. I could do some research and find out, but why? For anyone who has ever had a butter burger or needed a good butter for steak, we know that compound butter recipes are the best, so why does it matter how long it’s been around?
The truth is that compound butter recipes make for easy condiment recipes, especially if you need to amp up flavor during the cooking process and are short on time. When you use compound butter, all the flavors you need are right there and ready to go. Just add a pat of butter to the skillet (or on top of your meat) and you’ve got instant flavor that can be as simple or as complex as you want.
I love making flavored butters because they add so much to a dish in a very quick and easy way. Chipotle Butter, like all other compound butters, can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks or frozen for when you need to whip up a gourmet meal on the fly.
What is compound butter?
Compound butter is butter that is softened before being whipped with aromatics, herbs, spices, or other flavors. It gets re-formed by being rolled in parchment paper and chilled until firm, after which it can be sliced and used in cooking or as a condiment; for example, to make butter burgers even better!
Compound butters can come in all sorts of flavors from savory to sweet. You may have had them on pop-overs. In fact, the very first time I ever had compound butter was at the Riverview Restaurant in Cold Spring, NY back in the early 2000’s. There were three kinds of butter served with the homemade pop-overs that came before the meal back then; lemon, raspberry, and honey butter.
Now let me just say that I will never forget how wonderful this experience was! I pulled apart that steaming cloud of pastry, smeared a pat of compound butter into it’s doughy recesses, then took in the delightful scent as it melted only to drizzle down onto my fingers. There is just something magical about melted butter and hot bread, but there is something absolutely heavenly about flavored butters on pop-overs.
As you can imagine, these were sweet flavored butters. But they come in savory form, too.
What is compound butter used for?
I’ve already mentioned a couple ways that compound butter can be used. In fact, there are endless ways to use flavored butters!
Another one I can think of off hand is on a warm cake. I am not a lover of cake, mostly because of the texture. I prefer brownies or dense fudge-like desserts, and a typical fluffy cake can be made more like a pudding or fudge with the addition of hot butter. Just drizzle it over and the cakey-cake becomes less cakey.
Because I don’t like cakey-cake.
Like… at all.
Another way to use a recipe for flavored butter that I can come up with is for popcorn. Much like rice, grits or ricotta, popcorn can take on just about any flavor you add to it. Forego the store-bought seasoning mixes that can include all kinds of junk in the ingredients (like maltodextrin) and make your own popcorn seasoning using flavored butters. The variety of flavors are only as limited as your imagination here. Store a roll in the freezer, chop off a few chunks then melt, drizzle, and shake.
Now, to get back to the first idea I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there is, of course, the butter burger.
There are lots of ideas out there for how to make a butter burger, from sandwiching a pat of butter over a hot burger patty to smearing the melted butter on a hot toasted bun, but any way you prepare it works as long as the meat winds up super juicy and buttery in the end.
Compound butter is perfect on burgers because it acts like its own condiment. If you throw an impromptu barbecue and are short on flavorful condiments, compound butter is a great stand in, especially if you have a few flavored butters on hand in the fridge or freezer.
Some ideas to get you started:
- Pickle relish and mustard
- Garlic or Onion
- Buffalo Blue Cheese
- Chipotle Butter
You won’t need anything else besides mayo and ketchup to serve up a juicy burger that is nothing short of gourmet if you’ve got some flavored butters ready to go.
Another great way to use compound butter is in a stir fry. Just make up a flavored butter to suit your needs, then toss it into a stir fry when making meals for busy weeknights.
In my opinion this beats buying pre-made meals, especially when you know what goes into your food (and you will when you make your own compound butters).
Flavored butters can be used for pretty much anything. Try them on pancakes, in scrambled eggs, on potatoes, fish, chicken, pork, or in your bulletproof coffee.
Is compound butter a good butter for steak?
I can’t think of any butter that isn’t good for steak, and if you are familiar with the midwestern supper club way of doing things, you know all about how nice a fat pat of butter plopped on top of your steak right when it comes off the grill is.
By the time your server gets it to the table, that butter is already beginning to melt into a pool of flavor that infuses the meat it sits upon.
Imagine using a compound butter in this way…
Does this answer the question?
Chipotle Butter as a steak finishing butter:
Chipotle Butter is probably the best compound butter for steak that I can think of, and the whole reason I came up with it was to use it on red meat.
One of the easiest compound butter recipes, Chipotle Butter only has 4 ingredients, including the butter. It works so well with red meat because of the depth of flavor and smokiness that comes from coffee, unsweetened cocoa, and adobo sauce that the chipotles are packed in.
What inspired this recipe for flavored butter:
The idea for chipotle butter came from a few instances over the years that I can recall. The first one was when I lived in Long Island and made a recipe for a skirt steak seasoned with a mocha rub.
The rub was simple; coffee granules, unsweetened cocoa powder, hot pepper, salt, pepper, and a few other herbs and spices to add complexity. If I remember correctly, there was a fair amount of salt and sweet in the rub to tenderize the meat (kind of like a dry brine). I had never thought of using coffee or chocolate on a steak before, but since I am up for trying new things culinary, I gave this recipe a shot.
I was pleasantly surprised at the result. The mocha flavor really brought out something in the red meat that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. It enhanced it in a rugged way, quite contrary to what I would think chocolate and coffee would do. If you take out the sweet, you get this big lumberjack kind of flavor.
The second instance that contributed to this flavored butter for steak recipe was a dry rub I had gotten from a friend several years ago. It was a complex recipe of salts, sugars, herbs and spices meant to go on meat before smoking it. Coffee was one of the ingredients along with chipotle powder.
Steak finishing butter vs. bbq sauce:
I live in Wisconsin. The winters here are very cold and very long. Add in the fact that we live in the wide open country only a few miles from Lake Michigan.
The sum of these parts equals lots of howling, bone-chilling winds.
Grilling out is painstaking and not at all enjoyable when your hat keeps blowing off, your hood blows over your face, and your scarf ends up stuck in the grill grate. Cumbersome gloves and mittens make it hard to handle the utensils, and if you slip on the ice while carrying the meal into the house – it is all for naught, really.
If you manage to avoid these pitfalls, however, in the time it takes to get it off the grill and walked into the house, your meat will most likely have dropped to room temperature at best.
Sub-zero wind chills will do that.
Chipotle Butter is my way of getting that rugged, outdoorsy BBQ flavor without having to face the elements of a Wisconsin winter. The hygge of a supper club butter steak meets smokey BBQ flavor – without using artificial ingredients.
The way I like to do this is pretty simple. I fire up the broiler, coat a steak in a rub made up of brown sugar and cracked black pepper, then broil it until the sugar caramelizes and the meat is done to my liking. Finally I’ll plop on a pat of chipotle butter just before serving the steak. This way I get all the crunchy blackened bits on the outside of the steak with just enough sweet to balance out the boldness of the chipotle butter.
To be honest, you won’t even need BBQ sauce if you use this flavored butter for steak, but if you insist, feel free to slather it on.
Why Chipotle Butter is one of my favorite condiment recipes:
Chipotle butter, like all other flavored butters, can be made ahead and stored in the freezer. This is like having make-ahead meal options because it can be used as a seasoned butter for steak or to ramp up a butter burger.
If you are a fan of the cannibal sandwich, then you will like this butter on here, too. Chipotle butter goes great with rye and it will pump up the volume of what could be otherwise bland – especially if you need to watch your salt intake.
Mark and I are no longer on the keto diet, but one thing I took away from when we were doing keto was bulletproof coffee. Chipotle Butter is a nice way to spice up my morning routine.
If you’ve made Chipotle Butter and have come up with a new and inventive way to use it, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experience!
- Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment
- Parchment Paper
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅛ tsp instant coffee granules
- 1 tbsp finely chopped chipotles in gluten free adobo sauce
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy.
- While the mixer is still running and with the speed lowered to medium, slowly add the coffee granules, cocoa powder, and chipotle. Continue to mix until the ingredients are well combined and the butter takes on an even reddish brown color.
- Use a rubber spatula to scoop the butter out of the bowl of the stand mixer onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using your hands, form the butter into a log about 6 inches long and 1½ to 2 inches in diameter. Try to get the log as close to the long edge of the parchment as possible. Gently roll the parchment around the butter so that it is wrapped about 2 times, trim off the excess. Twist the ends shut to seal the butter into a tube.
- Place the butter in the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours until firm. Butter can be stored for up to two weeks, or frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using. To use, unwrap the chilled butter and cut off as much as you need a tablespoon at a time.
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