We’re big fans of clarified butter in Brain Food Kitchens, which means we go through a lot of it. Every few weeks we make a batch so that we always have it on hand.
Clarified butter and, the closely related, ghee are simply butter that has been cooked to remove any water and solids. Besides making the kitchen smell amazing, turning butter to clarified butter also gives the fat a higher smoke point (this just means you can cook with it a high temperatures) and lengthens the shelf life of the resulting fat.
Both clarified butter and ghee begin with melting over low heat. And they are both heated until the water evaporates and the milk solids settle and then the clear fat is poured off. Ghee is heated just a wee bit more until the milk solids are browned, giving the resulting fat a nutty flavor and aroma. The difference is subtle.
We use clarified butter for frying and sauteing — it is excellent for cooking eggs, popping popcorn or cooking steak. Clarified butter also makes a mean hollandaise. Ghee is often associated with Middle Eastern and South Asian cooking so its very much at home in dal, curries or stir fries. Ghee is also amazing for making sauces or for a dip with crab or lobster.
Melt a pound of unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat and slowly cook until the bubbling ceases and the liquid turns clear, 30 to 40 minutes. Strain and cool, being sure to leave any solids in the bottom of the pan. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
Melt a pound of unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. As soon as it liquefies, turn the heat up to medium. When it finishes foaming, turn up the heat a little bit more and wait for it to foam a second time. Ghee is done when a second foam forms on top of butter, and the butter turns golden, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Brown milk solids will be in bottom of pan. Gently pour into heatproof container through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Store in an airtight container, being sure to keep free from moisture. Ghee does not need refrigeration and will keep in airtight container for up to one month.
So this may come to you as a shock, but I’m not the only culinarian around here (here being Brain Food Industries my test kitchen) generating life-enhancing recipes, tips, and advice for American cooker-folk. In fact, my Director of Culinary Ops, Meghan Splawn, has been working behind my scenes for years. Every week she’s sharing her wisdom from our test kitchens — nothing classified mind you, but she can cook up a storm so you might want to pay attention.