Garlic butter, not just for bread
Spread garlic butter on top of hot steak and watch as it melts to make a sauce. Or toss it with fresh pasta or use it for stir-frying vegetables. Just about any use of butter will be enhanced with the addition of this savory flavor.
There is no doubt that garlic butter is magnificent on warm bread. My garlic butter butterflaps are usually snapped up in no time as they come warm and fragrant to the table. But this savory and highly aromatic compound butter can be used for a lot more.Skip to next paragraph
Tastes Like Home
Cynthia Nelson was born and raised in the only English-speaking country in South America – Guyana. She has been a media professional for over 18 years. Cynthia is based in Barbados and teaches Mass Communication. Her photography and musings on food and life appear regularly in publications in the Caribbean and North America. She is the author of the memoir-cookbook: Tastes Like Home: My Caribbean Cookbook and the award-winning blog, Tastes Like Home.
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Garlic butter is a compound butter. A compound butter is a butter that is mixed in with other ingredients to create a flavored butter. Fresh herbs, spices, and roasted aromatics such as garlic are mixed into butter; the mixture is then transferred to plastic wrap or parchment paper, rolled up and chilled to make cutting into slices easy.
Compound butters are melted on top of hot food items such as meats and vegetables, used as a spread and to finish various sauces. Because they are used in such prominent ways, it is important that you make the compound butter using a high quality butter. Yes, you can use margarine but the flavour would not be the same.
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The most popular compound butter we make is garlic butter and most of the times we use it exclusively to make garlic bread but there many other ways in which garlic butter can be used to impart flavor and lift the ordinary to the extraordinary. While you can buy garlic butter, it is easy to make at home. Splurge on getting the top quality butter instead of buying the pre-made version from your supermarket.
Start by roasting the garlic (see recipe below). You can flavor the butter even more by roasting the garlic with fresh thyme, rosemary, or marjoram. Mix the roasted garlic pulp with room temperature butter along with some finely minced parsley or chives, scallions/green onions, and you’re done.
- Spread garlic butter on hot toast or savory scones such as cheese scones.
- Add a thick slice or two on top of your hot steak and watch it melt and baste the meat while making a sauce in which you can drag each slice of steak.
- Steam fish and add a dollop of the butter and let it flavor, baste and sauce the fish.
- Massage a chicken with a generous amount of the flavored butter and roast it for a garlic flavored chicken and a sauce that would have you licking your fingers.
- Sauté shrimp with it.
- Garlic butter is great for quickly stir-frying quick cooking vegetables such as cabbage and spinach (callaloo).
- Bake potatoes whole, cut open and drop a thick slice of garlic butter and let it melt and quickly absorb into the flesh of the potato.
- Boil pasta and toss with garlic butter.
- Cook rice and stir the butter into the hot rice. Yum!
- Boil and slice ground provisions while still hot – cassava, plantains, sweet potatoes, breadfruit, and flavor with garlic butter.
- Brush onto boiled or roasted sweet corn.
- If steaming vegetables is your preferred way of having vegetables, then add a little garlic butter while still hot and make those steam veggies into something sumptuous.
I’m confident that you can find many other ways to use this wonderful flavored butter.
2 large heads/bulbs of garlic (use 3 if the heads/bulbs are small)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons oil
8 ounces salted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Cut off about 1/4 inch of the bottom of the garlic heads/bulbs to expose some of the flesh of the garlic (the part that is pointed).
3. Add the garlic heads/bulbs to a large piece of foil (about 12 x 12-inch square). Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap the garlic loosely with the foil and
transfer to the oven. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes or until the garlic is softened and lightly browned.
4. Remove garlic from oven, carefully open foil and let cool to room temperature. Squeeze pulp of garlic into a medium sized bowl. It you like, you can remove the cloves whole from their wrapper.
5. Add butter, parsley and black pepper, if using, and mix well.
6. Take a large piece of plastic wrap and transfer butter creating a 4-1/2-inch log along one side of the plastic wrap (leave a 2 inch space from the edge). Take the piece of plastic closest to the edge of the butter and place it over the butter. Roll the butter, wrapping it until it reaches the other edge. Twist the ends until the butter is tightly secured. Refrigerate to harden until you are ready to use it. Use parchment paper if you do not have plastic wrap or simply transfer the butter to an airtight container.
7. To use, unwrap and slice or simply cut through the plastic or paper.
- You can flavor the garlic by adding fresh thyme, marjoram or rosemary on top of the garlic as it roasts.
- If you use unsalted butter, add salt to taste when mixing the butter with the herbs and garlic.
- Thinly sliced green onions (using the green parts only) can be added in addition to or instead of the parsley. Tarragon and dill would work well, too.
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Related post on Tastes Like Home: Is your bread buttered?
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