Even though it’s still National Dairy Month, we suspect Georges Auguste Escoffier may not be a name you are familiar with. Many of his recipes and techniques are, however, because they are used to teach culinary students around the world.
The original text Le Guide culinaire (first printed in 1903) is still considered by some to be one of the definitive references for traditional cuisine classique. By 1921 this work was already in its fourth edition and yet, it was not until 1979 that it was translated into English. The two chefs responsible for its translation into English both worked at London’s famous Savoy Hotel in the 1940’s – the same place Chef Escoffier made his mark decades earlier, and where his shadow still falls to this day.
That original work also included the first known written recipe for beurre composé. Since then, it’s been chemically mimic-ed, but never perfectly replicated. Sweet corn, bread and Dirty Lobster just wouldn’t be the same without it. But the real question for most culinarians is, “How do you make butter better?”
Maybe the first attempt happened with purpose, or maybe it happened by accident. The farmer’s wife had some fresh-cut herbs in her apron, bent over the butter churn as she worked feverishly to make the butter that morning; and in the process the herbs fell into the churn. Either way, what had likely only been shared quietly in certain circles was made public. Chef Escoffier knew how to make basic butter better and he shared both the concept and its practical application with the world. He turned basic butter into a beurre composé. A what? A compound butter.
A compound butter is one that has other flavors added to it. Fresh herbs, spices, even fruits or vegetables – you get the idea. The butter is allowed to soften and then the additional ingredients are thoroughly incorporated into the butter by hand. Or, you can use a mixer to create a lighter, whipped compound butter.
Lemon or herb butters are quite common, but again, we prefer to depart from the ordinary! If you read our homemade ice cream post, you know where we are coming from. If not, we’ve added a twist to our compound butter. . . bitters! Yes, compound bitters butter. Say that three times fast!
This recipe takes advantage of another of AZ Bitters Lab’s unique bitters blends and makes use of a great seasonal fruit – green chiles. Yes, in the culinary world they are often called vegetables, but in the botanical world, they are classified as fruits. Call them what you want, but when roasted, chopped and added to a compound butter along with cilantro or other unique southwest ingredients you have an incredible compound butter that can be served atop a mesquite fired steak, on warm, fresh tortillas or rubbed under the skin of your favorite fowl.
We’ve provided the basic recipe below. You tweak it the way you want!
(you’ll notice we recommend unsalted sweet cream butter – salt your own butter and use the good stuff!)
- 1 lb. unsalted sweet cream butter
- 2 Tbsp. Mas Mole #2 bitters (courtesy AZ Bitters Lab)
- ½ c. cilantro
- 2 tsp. lime zest
- 2 pinches “Sel Gris de Guérande”
- Allow butter to soften slightly but NOT to room temperature. Chop butter into uniform chunks.
- Using a whisk attachment (if you have one – if not, mixer beaters will work) whip the butter in the mixer’s bowl at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- While butter is being whipped, chop cilantro.
- Add the cilantro and bitters and beat for another 2 minutes until both are fully incorporated.
- Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log, using the edge of a baking sheet to form a tight log.
- Chill for two hours before use or serving.