Smash together softened butter with pretty much anything—fresh herbs, crumbled cheese, miso—and you’ve got the makings of a flavor bomb that’s as simple to use as spreading, dolloping or melting onto your next dish.
Make compound butter ahead by rolling it into a log in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for longer use, slicing off coins as needed.
Also, resist the urge to microwave butter to soften it, as it will inevitably end up partially melted. Let it soften slowly at room temperature.
The possibilities are endless, but we’ve got a few go-to combinations. For grilled steaks, smash together a couple tablespoons of softened butter with Gorgonzola or other robust blue cheese, a few grinds of pepper and a teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme. Dollop on top of a freshly grilled steak while it rests before slicing so that it has a chance to mingle with the exuded juices.
We also love miso butter, which we can thank Momofuku’s David Chang for popularizing. It makes the perfect sauce for broiled salmon or steak, smeared on most any sautéed or roasted vegetable, or tossed with noodles. Blend equal parts mild white or yellow miso and softened unsalted butter (salty miso and salted butter are unpalatably saline); add a little grated ginger if you like for accent. The mix will store for two weeks or more in a sealed container in the refrigerator (a Mason jar is perfect).
Or, blend soy sauce into your softened butter—one part soy to two parts butter—to melt over grains or vegetables or resting meats. Dollop on rice or melt into sautéed mushrooms to add to omelets or pile on noodles. For a mild white fish, we like an herbal tahini butter, as in this Roast Cod with Tahini-Herb Butter. Mix four tablespoons butter with three tablespoons tahini, two teaspoons lemon zest, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper and two tablespoons each minced parsley and cilantro. Dollop on baked fish fresh out of the oven.
On flatbread, try a Garlic-Herb Butter, mixing one clove of grated garlic into 3 tablespoons butter, adding two tablespoons parsley and one tablespoon each dill and cilantro, seasoning with salt. The possibilities are endless, so whatever you do, don’t sweat the sauce.