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From Our Freshologists: Instant Gourmet Butters

Compound butter is another one of those chef secrets. A French-cuisine staple, it’s simply pure, unsalted butter, with herbs, spices and/or other flavorings mixed in. All by itself, it makes a simple, flavorful sauce, just melted over steak, fish or vegetables. If you’re one of those people, like me, who thinks a little butter makes any dish better, trust me on this one: compound butter kicks it up one additional notch.

Compound butter is fairly easy to make, but takes some time and planning. (You have to let butter soften, mix in flavors, shape and let solidify again before using.) Instead, why not let an actual chef do the work? Now at FRESH: Delicious, all-natural compound butters from a chef-run company called Epicurean.

The Epicurean compound butters are intensely flavored butters that come in little tubs you’ll find in the dairy aisle. There are sweet flavors _ orange honey and honey pecan, just perfect on hot biscuits, pancakes, waffles or muffins. The savory flavors, though, are even more fun to cook with.

The scampi flavor, which is really a bold lemon-garlic butter, makes perfect shrimp scampi with almost no effort. (The chef-creator also suggests it as a dipping sauce for lobster, crab legs, or artichokes.) Bearnaise is the classic French combination of shallots, tarragon and vinegar, and can be used on any dish, like salmon, steak, or eggs Bearnaise, where you’d use that sauce.

Chili-lime? Try it on corn-on-the-cob, or to flavor rice pilaf or fish tacos. Tuscan herb? Bruschetta or just atop oven-warmed bread.  The fanciest flavor is probably the black truffle, which I’d probably put on risotto if I was trying to impress guests.

But really, any of the savory flavors would be good just stirred into pasta or rice, or to top a grilled steak, like you;s get at a nice steakhouse. Extra flavor, no extra work. That’s my kind of chef secret.