Herb butter. Compound butter. Hotel butter. No matter what you call it, it’s one of the easiest items you can make and add to your kitchen essentials cupboard. It’s also a good example of how a simple uncomplicated item can have tremendous effects on anything you cook. Finish off your vegetables with it, plop a dollop on top of that grilled steak while it’s resting, add it to a sauce, spread some on the outside of your bread before making a panini; the uses for herb butter are endless and the results are endlessly delicious.
I’d used herb butter before but hadn’t thought to make it in a long while. A couple of months ago my friend Chef Julius Russell gave me some scampi butter he uses, and I must say, adding some to Brussels sprouts made them amazing. When I came across the following recipe in my mom’s recipes I decided to whip up a batch (pun intended).
The nice thing about making your own compound butter is you can add whatever you want to it. You can have just herbs like my mom’s or add some garlic like with Chef’s scampi butter. Get adventurous. Want a smoky spicy butter? Add some chili powder or Spanish paprika for finishing grilled chicken or steak. The sky’s the limit here. If you’re like me and you grow herbs in the summer you’ve probably purchased one or two plants which seemed like a good idea at the time but you end up not using them much. Well here’s a use for them. For example, last summer I bought a lemon-thyme plant thinking it would be a great herb to add to dishes (and it was). However, its growth outpaced my use so I had this big plant which just kept growing. This year when I inevitably have one of these plants I’ll remember to use it in some herb butter. (Hmm, lemon-thyme, some lavender…)
While herb butter is best when you use the fresh herbs from your garden, it really is a four season tool you can make anytime and keeps well in your fridge. It’s butter, it’s not going bad on you.
Herb Butter – makes 1 C
- 2 sticks unsalted butter softened at room temp
- 1 Tbs chopped basil
- 1 Tbs chopped marjoram
- 1 Tbs chopped chives
- 1 tsp chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Chop the herbs fine. Using a fork, mix the herbs and lemon juice into the butter. Do not use a blender or processor or you could end up with green butter (which is ok for St. Paddy’s day I suppose).