By Dawn Perry, photographed by Matt Duckor
Generally speaking, I am an olive oil person. I fry my eggs in it, I dress my vegetables with it, I roast, sauté, and baste with it. But what about butter? I cook with it so seldom, it seems.
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No longer. Maybe it's the cold weather approaching or maybe I just need a change, but for the past month, I've found myself gravitating toward the stuff. It started with a schmear here, a pat there, and then I was reaching for it on a regular -- and not just for toast and leftover steamed rice. Since I've been on the butter tip, I've been giving my chickens a good massage with a decent amount of soft butter -- over and under the skin -- and roasting them crisp and golden. (And here's my super simple roast chicken recipe.)
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I thus descended down a compound butter rabbit hole. Unsalted butter's neutral flavor doesn't compete with flavors the way an assertive olive oil can, and fat that's solid at room temperature makes a great vehicle for big flavors: Thai chilies, harissa, shredded beets--I've tried handfuls of flavor combinations inspired by locales around the globe, from Italy and Japan to Mexico and Russia. Here are eight that we (yes, I lured my fellow BA editors into Compound Butter World) like best.
So many butters, so many chickens. Go ahead and make a double batch: use half for the chicken and spread the other half on the nearest baguette.
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