This has happened more than once:
“Hey, what are all those tubes wrapped up like candy in your fridge, Miss. Mouse? Looks like fudge.”
“Oh, it’s better than fudge. It’s butter!”
“Butter? Are you kidding me?”
“Nope. It’s compound butter.”
“Wait, I don’t understand.”
“You mean you don’t have at least six different kinds of compound butter on hand at all times? For shame!”
I’m exaggerating, of course.
I only have four rolls of compound butter in my fridge right now. And sometimes, I only have two. (Oh, the horror! I know.)
Back up, Mouse. What’s compound butter?
Only one of the most heavenly—and versatile—garnishes on the planet. Basically, it’s butter that’s been packed full of various flavorings and ingredients. Here’s one of my favorites.
You know how when you go to a fancy steakhouse and your steak comes with a sumptuous hunk of cold, creamy butter on it? And it’s just starting to melt and mingle with the meat’s perfectly charred crust to make a mouthwatering, on-the-spot sauce?
Compound butter is like that, but better.
Compound butter is one of the fastest, easiest ways to add a burst of flavor to a dish right before serving. I mainly use it on meats and poultry.
That said, it’s also one of the sexiest things you’ll ever spread on toast. And the super hero of instant pasta sauces. Come to think of it, there’s not much that it’s NOT good on. I’ll usually stop just short of using it for hot buttered rum. (Usually, mind you.)
This particular compound butter marries smokey scotch with toasty pecans—and just the tiniest warm hint of clove.
Seriously, I would eat this by the spoonful if it weren’t socially unacceptable. (It’s not, right? Jeff, you with me on this one?)
For the scotch, I usually use Johnny Walker Black because we always have it in the house, but by all means, use your favorite. (I know scotch is one of those things folks tend to get persnickety about.)
The short version of this recipe goes like this
Soften up a stick of butter. Toss in all the other ingredients. Smoosh it all around until you have an even paste. Roll it up in a piece of waxed paper and refrigerate until firm. Try not to mistake it for a candy bar. Use fat slices to garnish your favorite dishes.
Here’s what that looks like.
Pecan Scotch Compound Butter
8 Tbls. butter, softened on the counter for about 20 minutes
1/4 cup pecans, toasted & chopped
1/8 tsp. ground clove
2 Tbls. scotch
freshly cracked black pepper
pinch of kosher salt
Yields about 10 Tbls. butter
Pecan Scotch Compound Butter: Toast the nuts
Grab your pecans. Toast them in a nonstick pan (plain, no butter/oil) for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently until they’re brown and fragrant. Set them aside to cool to room temp (otherwise, they’ll melt the butter).
When they’re cool, chop them up into bits. You want to get them fairly small. (For scale, that’s an 8-inch knife.)
Pecan Scotch Compound Butter: Flavor the butter
Put your butter in a large bowl.
Mash it up with a fork to break it up.
Toss in the chopped, toasted pecans.
Toss in your ground clove, as well as kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
Drizzle in the scotch. (Don’t add more than this. It’ll make the butter too wet and it’ll be hard to work with.)
Blend the mixture together with a fork.
It takes a minute or two to work the scotch into the butter. At first, it’ll seem really wet and you’ll think you added too much. Just keep going.
When it’s all blended together, it’ll look about like this:
Give it a taste and add a little more salt/pepper/whatever if you think it needs.
Pecan Scotch Compound Butter: Roll and chill
When the butter is blended, you’re ready to roll it up. Rip off a piece of wax paper about 6-8 inches wide. Parchment paper would also work. I wouldn’t use aluminum foil, because it rips so easily.
Transfer the butter mixture to the wax paper. Form it into a log, like this:
Roll the butter up in the wax paper.
Tuck the paper under and towards you as you go, like you’re rolling a burrito.
And finally, twist each end tightly, like a hard-candy wrapper.
Your butter should be neatly wrapped up, just like a party cracker.
Pop it in the fridge and refrigerate for a few hours, until chilled and solid. If you need to make that happen faster (Oh noes! Compound butter emergency!), stick it in the freezer and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t freeze through.
Pecan Scotch Compound Butter: Slice and garnish
When your butter is totally chilled, unwrap it and take a peek. It should be nice and solid.
When you slice it, it should be speckled with bits of toasted pecan and ground clove.
Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge, if it lasts that long.