Compound Butter: Lemon-Mint and Red Scallion-Honey Recipes

by Shelby Larsson on May 16, 2012

in All Recipes, Bread, Condiments

It doesn’t take much to spruce up a refrigerator staple into a chic accompaniment.   Take butter, for example. We all know it, use it and love it, but probably don’t tend to think of it as the star of a meal. Shelby reminds us below that dressing up butter is delicious and fun and the reason you should raise your hand to bring the bread for your next potluck. -Maggie

Have you ever been invited to a potluck dinner and somehow been assigned the task of bringing the bread? For many, this would be a huge relief–avoiding the trouble of planning a dessert or a leafy salad that will satisfy a crowd–but for people like me (and probably you, if you’re reading this site), this assignment might actually bring on a bit of hand wringing.

Of course, you could buy (or even make) really excellent bread and great quality butter. But where’s the creativity in that? How will you flex those culinary muscles of yours? Oh, but wait… there are just so many things you can do with that butter!

This was how I was first introduced to compound butter–a friend of mine offered to bring the bread and butter to accompany a dinner we were attending. The herb butter she brought knocked my socks off and truly brought the meal to the next level. Soon, we were adding that butter to pretty much everything at the table. Healthy? Not especially. Delicious? YES.

As it turns out, compound butter is extremely simple to make, and the combinations are endless: herbs, spices, citrus, fruit and the list goes on. Compound butter is obviously a great addition to crusty bread, but it can also be a fantastic topping for fresh radishes, which is how we enjoyed them on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

We won’t stop there, though. The lemon-mint and red scallion-honey butters that I made this weekend will liven up almost any dish. I plan to use up our extras by tossing it into pasta, potatoes, or spring peas all week long.

Lemon-Mint Butter

Ingredients:

  • ½ a stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from half a lemon)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Allow the butter to come to room temperature (it takes about an hour out of the refrigerator for it to soften).
  2. Add the butter, chopped mint and zest to a bowl. Use a small scraper or back of a spoon to mix together well. Scrape into a small bowl.
  3. Press the mixture into the bowl and level it off with scraper or with a butter knife. Chill.
  4. Before serving, sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top.
Red Scallion-Honey Butter

Ingredients:

  • ½ a stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced red scallion (shallot would be a great swap here)*
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch of sea salt

Follow the directions above, but if the taste is too intense, add about a tablespoon of white vinegar to the minced scallion or shallot and put aside for about 20 minutes to temper the bitterness. Rinse and drain the scallion and allow time for it to dry off a bit– it will be hard to combine with the butter if too wet.

Take it to the next level:

While I used little salt and pepper bowls for my compound butter, the recipe can easily be doubled for a ramekin-sized serving. I like the look of the little bowls, but there are ways to be quite creative with the presentation. Using parchment paper, you can roll the butter into a log, chill it, and then cut it into little rounds. This technique works especially well for making herbed butter toppers for steak or other meat. If you have small molds, like leaves or flowers, you could also experiment with compound butter shapes. Just plan ahead: it will take about two hours to chill the butter long enough to make clean slices.

Now that I’ve started, I’m not sure I can stop experimenting. I’d love to try a strawberry-mint sweet butter for biscuits, but I’m also intrigued by the idea of topping a steak with a savory butter mixed with blue cheese and parsley.

Tell us, have you tried making compound butter before? What should we try next? What are your favorite combinations?

All photos styled and taken by Shelby Larsson.

Eat Boutique is an online magazine + market for food enthusiasts to celebrate the best pure, local + comforting handmade foods. We call it: food that hugs you back.  Looking for the perfect gift? Eat Boutique sells gift boxes filled with handmade sweet and savory treats.  Send a gift box of handmade food today.

Shelby Larsson

Shelby Larsson, writer, editor, resides in Boston, where she wanders across the city, eating and drinking as she goes. She loves New England (with a particular affinity for Maine), architecture, cities, beer, cheese, and adores cooking up a big meal for family and friends. You can read more about Shelby’s eating adventures on her blog, Lady Gouda.

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  • http://theindolentcook.blogspot.com/ leaf (the indolent cook)

    Oh, love. They both sound gorgeous. I’m a big fan of butter, and I already had too much this evening, but this post has gotten my appetite racing again!

    • http://www.ladygouda.blogspot.com/ Shelby @ Lady Gouda

      Thanks, Leaf! I, too, am a big fan of butter :)

  • Ladykaldi

    A half stick of butter is 1/4 cup, not 1/8 cup. It is 1/8 of a pound. 

    • http://www.ladygouda.blogspot.com/ Shelby @ Lady Gouda

       Oops! You are so right– got my numbers mixed up. Thanks for alerting us, Ladykaldi!

  • Tara Bellucci

    LOVE compound butter! I actually just made kind of a combo of yours during my SF trip: Scallion & lemon basil. Great minds :)

    • http://www.ladygouda.blogspot.com/ Shelby @ Lady Gouda

      Tara, that sounds amazing! I can’t even fathom how many fun combinations can be made…. will have to try that one next. 

  • Anonymous

    They do sound amazing, I cook with compound butters often.  Found a great new product at http://www.gourmetbutterblends.com where they’ve developed blends that you add to butter… I think there are sweet and savory flavors.  Had the Bruschetta blend and it was excellent!!

  • katy abrams

    i make strawberry and toasted almond butter, which is divine. and raspberry mint, which is also amazing.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Katy, sounds delicious! Xox Maggie

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