Compound butter is whipped seasoned butter. It’s a great way to combine the flavors of herbs and spices with the richness of butter. Compound butters can work with many different kinds of food but are an especially valuable addition to steak.
Butter on its own has long been used to finish steaks. Fat and steak go together, which is why marbling is so highly prized by chefs and steak-lovers. Butter works as a means of replacing any fat in the steak that may have been rendered off during the searing process. It can work as a sauce and helps to give the steak flavor from seasonings as well. You can play with an almost endless set of herb and spice combinations to give a steak your preferred flavor profile. Here are some of the best compound butters to serve with steak:
Garlic herb butter
While it’s good to experiment and be creative, the classics are still often the best. Garlic pairs perfectly with butter to create something that has the nutty, earthiness of garlic and that adds to it the creaminess of butter. Roast the garlic to increase the nutty notes and to add a little caramelized sweetness to the butter. Garlic pairs well with most other seasonings and is especially enjoyable when you combine it with savory herbs like thyme and rosemary. Parsley and basil both work equally well in a compound butter.
Paprika herb butter
Paprika not only adds a sweet fruitiness to your steak, but it also gives an attractive color to it. Combined with chopped rosemary or basil, it is an attractive and flavorful topping for any kind of steak. For smokiness use smoked paprika or one of the hot versions if you need something that provides the same intense red color and a little spiciness.
Habanero lime butter
The heat of habanero chilies combined with the sharpness and acidity of lime makes a great non-traditional topping for a fajita-style steak. Use it to top a hanger or flank steak right after slicing it. To get the lime flavor you can add both lime juice and lime zest, or you can replace the lime with lemon juice and zest. The butter will mellow the heat of the habanero and help the flavor to soak into the steak.
Black pepper and mustard butter
Black pepper and mustard both provide different kinds of heat but each is pungent in its own way nonetheless. If you still want more spice you can add a little cayenne to the mix for color and a third kind of heat.
Blue cheese and chives butter
Blue cheese makes a surprisingly enjoyable addition to steak and increases the richness of the butter. The light herbaceous onion flavor of chives complements it well and enhances the flavor of a well-browned steak. You can switch out the chives and use garlic instead, which also pairs well with blue cheese.
Red wine/Cognac and herb butter
Red wine in a compound butter gives it a flavor profile that can greatly enhance steak and provide an appetizing color. The red wine flavor pairs nicely with a variety of herbs including rosemary and thyme. Cognac is another alcoholic beverage that has long been used in French cookery and that works well in a compound butter. It works well with all of the same herbs. Use it with thyme, tarragon, and rosemary to flavor your steak.