Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cowboy Butter - A Great Gift

For Christmas, my friend Ashley gave me the most delicious gift - 3 types of cowboy butter: red chili; green chili with cilantro; and sun-dried tomato/garlic/herb. I'm pretty sure she got the inspiration, if not the recipes, from a Grady Spears cookbook.
My absolute favorite is the sun-dried tomato variety (bottom right on the plate). I've been eating it on bread, but think I'll try it on chicken this week.

Although I don't have Ashley's recipes, I have done a little research (just getting prepared for when I run out of the sun-dried tomato butter) and found the following tips on making compound (flavored) butters, from Bon Appetit:

"Compound butter, also known as seasoned butter, is butter with other ingredients added. It's easy to make, freezes well, and is a quick and easy way to top off fish, chicken, steaks, or chops. Stir seasoned butter into rice or pasta, or smear some under the skin of a chicken before roasting.

To make seasoned butter, mix softened butter with ingredients like minced capers, shallots, fresh herbs, olives, grated lemon zest, or a combination of such ingredients. Transfer the butter to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the butter into a log that's an inch or so in diameter, using the plastic to help mold. Wrap the log tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil, and store in the freezer for up to 1 year.

When you're ready to use the compound butter, just pull the frozen log out and cut off slices as needed."

You could use almost any herb, spice, or seasoning you can think of to make compound butter, and not just for savory ingredients, either. I bet cranberry-orange butter would be good, and maybe strawberry-cherry-lime butter for summer . . . and of course you could add cinnamon, vanilla, honey, maple syrup, nuts, etc. Do you have any great inspirations for flavored butter?

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