By simple definition, compound butter is the mixture of butter with any other ingredients. Of course, there are many examples, from the simple to the rich and delicate. In restaurants, it is used as a flavoring condiment that supplements a dish. The butter and the other ingredients are whipped together, formed into a desired shape (logs, rosettes, etc) and frozen. When it is time to serve, the compound butter is placed on top of the hot food and be allowed to melt and add flavor to the dish.
You've probably made your own compound butter as well and don't know it. Garlic butter is a prime example of a simple compound butter. And I like to make mine with fresh herbs like oregano, thyme and chives. Here's what you'll need:
6-7 bulbs garlic
1 lb unsalted butter (softened)
1 teaspoon each thyme, oregano, chives (chopped)
Salt & pepper to taste
Leave the butter in room temperature for a couple of hours to soften it. Roast the garlic by cutting the tops off, pour a couple of tablespoons of oil onto the bulbs and roast in the oven at 350°F for about 45 minutes to an hour (or until soft to the touch). It should be done when the top starts browning (see image above). Let it cool and squeeze the garlic out of the husks. By now, they should be soft enough to be like a pasty consistency. Add the garlic to the butter, together with the herbs and mix well. Finally, finish it off with a pinch of salt and and a few turns of your pepper grinder.
And there you have it, herbed garlic butter. It goes great on a range of dishes, from toast and pasta to the decadent lobster.