Clarified Butter And Ghee
"I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it, and, more important, I like to give it." Julia Child
Butter is made by churning milk fat. It is a mix of oil, water, and milk solids. Many butters have salt added and are labeled "salted".
Sometimes, when cooking, one wants the flavor of butter, but not the water, especially when frying or sautéing. When heated, butter bubbles and boils, and the milk solids turn brown and eventually black. But if you clarify the butter, if you remove the water and milk solids, you raise the smoke point, the temp at which an oil smokes, so you can cook with it over higher heat before it breaks down and turns brown. Clarified butter can be kept in a tight jar at room temp and can buy it in stores where it is sometimes called ghee. Ghee is easily found in Indian groceries.
At right we see steaks warming in clarified butter at Stripsteak in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. For more about their unique method of preparing incredible steaks, read my article Extreme Steak.
Preparation time. 5 minutes
Chill. 1 hour
Makes. 3/4 cup
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1) Cut the butter into cubes and put it into a cup. Hit it with microwaves for 2 to 3 minutes until melted, or put it in a pan over low and melt it completely.
2) Put it into the freezer for about 30 minutes.
3) It will separate into three layers, a thin layer of white milkfat at the top, a lemon colored layer of clarified butter, and a thin bottom layer of more solids and water. Scrape off the top layer and discard it.
4) Microwave it again and set it aside for a few minutes to settle. If you don't have a microwave, heat it again in a pan over low and then take it off and let it settle. Pour the clarified butter off the top of the milk solids being careful not to let any of the bottom layer in at all. If you leave a little clarified butter behind, that's OK. Let the clarified butter solidify in the fridge and wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Keep it refrigerated for months. Pour the bottom layer and the bit of butter that you inevitably left behind into a jar and use it on popcorn or bread.
This page revised 7/3/2011
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