This year I’m trying to be more mindful of how much waste I produce in my kitchen. We cook a lot but also love to dine out. Sometimes it’s hard to balance the short shelf life of items in our fridge with the time we have to cook them. I throw stuff into our small freezer constantly. The half can of tomato paste we didn’t use up goes in a Ziploc and into the freezer. Lemons and limes past their prime are squeezed and the juice is frozen into little cubes for future use. Leafy greens, despite my best intentions, are often blanched and frozen as well. Leftover egg whites freeze great and while they may not be ideal for meringues after thawing out, they are great for cocktails.
I recently found myself with a couple leftover nubs of blue cheese that would inevitably go to waste when I remembered an old recipe for compound butter. Compound butters freeze great and can also be made using leftover herbs. A small slice of one of these flavorful butters takes steamed vegetables from simple to sublime in the time it takes for the butter to melt. A hunk of blue cheese butter on a grilled steak makes a home cooked meal feel downright indulgent.
Blue Cheese Compound Butter
Adapted from Alton Brown’s “I’m Just Here for the Food”
Alton’s recipe is about 3x the size of the recipe below which is great for a crowd…but for just two people with a little blue cheese to use up, the modified recipe below is just right.
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced shallot
Pinch of chile flake
3 tsp dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 Tbsp minced parsley (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¼ pound blue cheese at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the oil; add the shallots and sweat for 1-2 minutes then add the chile flakes to toast. Add half the parsley (optional) and toss to coat with the oil then add the wine. Remove from heat. Beat the butter with a hand blender or in a stand mixer for one minute. Add the shallot mixture and blue cheese and beat to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the remaining parsley, if using, and transfer the butter to waxed paper. Roll into a log and freeze until hard. Remove from the wax paper and transfer into plastic wrap and then roll in foil. Store in the freezer for up to 4 months.
When ready to use, unwrap the log and slice off as many discs as you need for steak and/or veggies and allow to come up to room temperature for about an hour.