Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Friday, June 14, 2013

Goodness, gracious... ghee!

Goodness, gracious... ghee!

You may find yourself saying, "I've heard about ghee, but I'm not exactly sure what it is or how to use/make the product."

First of all... what is it?

Ghee is a form of clarified butter... used traditionally in Indian cuisine (similar to the use of butter in American cuisine). When you order lobster or crab in a restaurant, a side of melted butter is often served on the side. Many individuals will often make the mistake of simply melting butter and referring to it as "drawn butter" or "clarified butter." This is, in fact, not a true drawn butter. Clarified butter is slightly more complex.

When butter is slowly melted and simmered, it is rendered into three layers: the first is a foamy, water substance that is skimmed off; the second is a solid butter layer; third is composed of milk solids. The separated, butter layer is a rich, golden butter fat. #winning

So what is this "greatness" associated with ghee?

First of all, ghee has a much higher smoke point than butter. Ergo, when using ghee to sauté proteins or vegetables, it will be less likely to burn and provide a rich, more intense buttery flavor. The longer that the melted butter cooks, at a low temperature, the more robust and developed lavish butter flavor will be created.

Ghee lacks hydrogenated oils, which when heated to high temperatures can develop dangerous toxins. The clarified butter is actually lactose free (since the milk proteins have been removed during the rendering process). Ghee does not include artificial additives, preservatives or trans fats. Since ghee has such a concentrated buttery taste, it can be used sparingly: think 1 Tbsp ghee compared to 4 Tbsp regular butter/oil.

A few benefits: ghee actually stimulated secretion of stomach acids, which aids in speeding up digestion. Other fats (butter, oils, creams) will slow down the digestion process and sit heavy in the stomach (sometimes even "stopping an individual up" - both unpleasant and uncomfortable). Ghee is rich in antioxidants and aids in absorbing vitamins and minerals of the product that is has been used to cook.

Holland actually commercially produces the best variation of ghee. Though primarily used in Indian cuisine, one can make their own ghee. Originally it was made from water buffalo, but unsalted butter may be used. During the rendering process, spices may also be added in order to add zest to ghee: think ginger, cumin, curry, peppercorns, etc.

When making ghee, first gently melt unsalted butter on medium heat on the stovetop. With a slotted spoon carefully skim off the foamy, watery top layer. Continue to heat the butter, on a medium heat, in order to develop the rich, buttery flavor for about 5-10 minutes. Again, if different flavors are desired, add a few teaspoons of dried herbs or spices during the 5-10 minute flavor development.

Like any type of fat, too much is detrimental and high in cholesterol. However, fat is essential to a lifestyle. Ergo, portion control. As I mentioned before, ghee has a more robust, saturated flavor, so less is needed when using to cook or spread.

When tightly wrapped, ghee can be refrigerated for 6 months. It can be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to one year.

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts." - James Beard

Love y'all dearly!

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