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How to make and use compound butter

How to make and use compound butter

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‘Compound butter’ might sound like an overly complex invention from the age of molecular gastronomy, but it’s simply the name given to butter when combined with any other ingredient.

Useful for both savoury and sweet applications, adding garlic, cinnamon or any of an almost limitless number of ingredients to a bowl of softened butter creates a smooth, easy-to-use flavour bomb that can be deployed before, during or after cooking.

These are a few of our favourite compound butters and how to use them, but there’s no limit to the ingredients you can experiment with. For best results, use a premium unsalted butter and add your own fleur de sel or other quality salt to taste.

Garlic Butter: used to make garlic bread, but also excellent spread between the breast and skin of a whole chicken before roasting. For an incredible flavour boost, try substituting black garlic, roast garlic or confit garlic cloves.

Herb Butter: perfect for pan-fried fish, a medium rare steak, or even spread over a thick slice of toasted sourdough, herb butter is at its punchy best when fresh herbs like parsley, thyme and sage are combined with premium dried herbs like our Mexican oregano.

Chipotle Butter: As seen in the picture on this page, this smoky, spicy butter uses both a little of the chillies (finely chopped) and the rich tomatoey sauce from a tin of chipotle in adobo, and is perfect for corn, boiled potatoes, steamed green beans or charcoal-grilled steak.

Vanilla Butter: Using only high quality vanilla beans or vanilla extract, vanilla butter is delicious spread over soft brioche and pancakes, added between layers of cake along with lashings of jam, or sandwiched between two shortbread biscuits.

Truffle Butter: Few ingredients inspire as much devout passion as truffles, and grating a small amount of fresh truffle into a few tablespoons of butter is a great way to make it go further. For outside the all-too-brief truffle season, our truffle salsa and truffle salt make a great substitute.

Smoked Paprika Butter: Surprising as it might sound, combining butter with smoked Spanish paprika and tossing it through freshly popped popcorn makes a sensational snack that’s perfect shared with a few drinks.

Horseradish Butter: this sharp butter with plenty of Australian horseradish has a great bite that suits steak, roast beef and boiled kipflers, but is best deployed on rye bread loaded with pastrami.

Caper Butter: Herbaceous, bright and rich in umami, fold some chopped capers through butter for the perfect accompaniment to green veggies, barbecued chicken or anything crumbed and fried.

Mustard Butter: Slathering a steak in mustard before grilling is a popular way of adding vibrancy and a touch of heat, but the mustard can often burn on the barbecue. Instead, try combining a spoonful of hot English mustard or Dijon mustard with a few tablespoons of butter, and let it melt over the steak while it rests. Serve with the pooled butter and meat juices.

Native Herb Butter: Australia is home to a stunning variety of native flora, including flavourful herbs and spices like lemon myrtle, saltbush and mountain pepperberry, all perfect for combining with butter spreading over protein or vegetables. A saltbush butter would be delicious melted on grilled Moreton Bay bugs (bay lobster), and lemon myrtle butter would be beautiful slathered on steamed cod, or lightly sweetened and sandwiched between vanilla biscuits.

Seaweed Butter: Mix a tablespoon of dulse seaweed powder with 200g of softened unsalted butter. Serve on hot vegetables, steamed fish, seared steak, or smear onto a slice of crusty bread - anything that could use a boost of umami.

Porcini Butter: Porcini powder is a secret weapon for adding instant complexity, depth and earthiness to risottos, braises, stews, soups and savoury bakes. When mixed with butter and a touch of salt, it becomes a rich, spreadable flavour enhancer that can be added to pan fried mushrooms, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, or emulsified into a pan sauce for steak.

Miso Butter: Choose a miso that suits your taste: mild and sweet white miso or deep and rich red miso, and mix 1 tbsp with 3 tbsp of softened unsalted butter. Add a dollop of this umami paste to a bowl of ramen, creamy mashed potatoes, crispy skinned salmon, or stir through pasta.

Acid Butter:
 Chef Alessandro Pavoni's recipe for this compound butter is used in the 'mantecatura' stage of making risotto milanese, but could also be melted on steamed vegetables or grilled fish. In a small saucepan, bring to the boil: 250ml white wine vinegar, 125ml white wine, 1 shallot, 1 bay leaf and ground black pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until reduced to about 125ml. Strain liquid into a food processor, add 250g butter and blend well. Spread into a log on a sheet of baking paper, roll up tightly and refrigerate until firm.

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