Herb Infused Oils & Compound Butter
Herb-infused oils can be used to make a special salad dressing, drizzling over a dish of pasta, or simply as an appetizer with chunks of great artisan bread.
Compound butters are mixtures of butter and herbs and seasonings. Primarily, they are used to enhance flavor in various dishes, in a fashion similar to a sauce.
This works well for fresh ingredients, especially tender ones, like parsley, cilantro, and fresh Chile peppers. It’s also the better option for very small ingredients, like peppercorns. Roughly one cup of loosely packed herbs per quart of oil is a good starting point, adjusting according to preference and strength of herbs (delicate parsley, for example, calls for more, while you can get away with just a sprig or two of pungent rosemary). To cold-infuse oil, use a food processor to pulverize the ingredient, and then mix it with the oil. Once the two have fully incorporated, strain out the solids. There’s no need to let the infusion sit for a long period of time before straining, explains the Bon Appetit test kitchen staff, because there will be residual tiny particles left suspended in the oil that continue to flavor it. One thing to remember: oil that’s been cold-infused with fresh ingredients must be refrigerated. Rick Martinez, associated food editor says a fresh, cold-infused oil will last for about a week, so plan accordingly.
Use this method for hardier, sturdier ingredients, like woody herbs (rosemary, thyme, and sage), and for dried/preserved items, like dehydrated mushrooms and Chiles. Slowly and gently heat the oil no higher than 150 degrees - any higher and it will start to cook, changing the oil’s flavor profile and potentially becoming rancid. Add the ingredients after the oil has been removed from the heat, and let it steep in a covered container. This doesn’t have to be refrigerated, but know that the longer the oil sits with the ingredients, the stronger the flavor will be.
Recipe courtesy of http://bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/diy-flavored-oil
For the herbed butter:
• ¼ cup mixed fresh herbs, such as chives, thyme leaves, and rosemary leaves, finely chopped
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
Mix butter, herbs, and salt together and refrigerate. Wonderful when used within a recipe, as a topping for steak, or a spread on grain/bread.