BIZ FEATURE: NEW KEY LARGO SHOP SERVING UP BUTTERY GOODNESS

Cow’s Rule Gourmet Compound Butter founder Marjorie Smith, right, with sister (and “right hand” staffer) Stephanie Aylor. CHARLOTTE TWINE/Contributed

It is a truth universally acknowledged that butter makes things better. Kind of like bacon. Everyone from cuisine legend Julia Child to your sensible Great-Aunt Mabel will tell you that it’s fabulous, for anything from vegetables to pancakes to mashed potatoes to steaks.

Marjorie Smith, founder of Cow’s Rule Gourmet Compound Butter in Key Largo, knows this fact better than most. Her company’s name is a play on an expression that chef Emeril Lagasse used often back in his Food Network heyday: “Pork fat rules.” 

“When I hear that, I think, ‘Does it really?’” Smith said. “Because where would our culinary hopes and dreams be without butter and cheese?”

Smith has a background in cuisine from her decade of experience with catering and event planning at Ocean Reef. After research, she noticed that compound butter is an untapped niche in the marketplace. Between her foodie skills and her talent for marketing and art — she is also an illustrator with a website, chartworksart.com — Smith is perfectly set up to be the Queen of Compound Butter through Cow’s Rule. However, she explained, most people don’t know what compound butter is. 

“Compound butter is a butter that has other ingredients in it,” she said. For example, she makes her Cow’s Rule Scampi Butter by taking restaurant-quality butter and mixing in freshly crushed raw garlic, lemon juice and zest, shallots, white wine and red pepper flakes. All a hungry cook has to do when they come home from work is toss some of this melted butter compound with cooked shrimp and voila — shrimp scampi dinner.

Smith’s products are “finishing butters” — and she has 19 flavors and counting, such as Key lime, Cajun Buffalo, and blue cheese & chive — for steaks, chicken, lambchops, pork, swordfish, shellfish and more. And for those with a sweet tooth, other flavors include cinnamon sugar, maple walnut praline and cranberry lemon poppy seed. 

Cow’s Rule has 19 flavors of compound butter and counting.

“We’re making it easy for people to have restaurant-style sauces—all the ingredients are in the butter,” Smith said. “Most people won’t make a sauce if it’s in an envelope.”

Smith originally started Cow’s Rule in 2013 as a wholesale business for fish and meat markets and specialty stores. In 2022, upon realizing that she needed more cooking and refrigeration space, she decided to open a storefront. As fortune would have it, a space opened up just a few doors down from her mother’s picture framing shop (mom Cheryl Trent has run this business for decades) in the MM 103.2 shopping plaza.

Cow’s Rule is a family project, with sister Stephanie Aylor serving as “the right hand,” said Smith. Aylor — with another sister, Kim Smith, pitching in to help — remodeled the store before its doors opened to the public in July.

“One day I came to the store, and she said, ‘How do you feel about painting hooves?’” Aylor said with a laugh. And Aylor immediately dove into the task — painting a trail of cow hooves on the sidewalk leading up to Cow’s Rules’ door.

The hooves have been a hit with passersby. One day, a customer came into the store and said, “You had me at the hooves.”

Every package of compound butter is $6.29. The store is located at 103200 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Suite No. 7. More information is at cowsrule.us or 305-304-4972.

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Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines; Elle.com; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.