You’ve probably heard of clarified butter or drawn butter. But have you heard of ghee? I would like to take this moment to make a formal introduction.
Ghee (pronounced like Geek without the k) is a variety of clarified butter commonly found in India and surrounding countries and is used as an ingredient, a cooking fat, and a condiment. Both clarified butter and ghee are very similar butter derivatives with one simple, yet crucial difference.
Let’s start with a butter basic. Butter has three components: butterfat, water, and milk solids. In both clarified butter and ghee, you remove the water and milk solids to leave behind only pure butterfat. However, when making ghee, you *toast* the milk solids in the butterfat before removing them, leaving behind a roasty, toasty flavor.
Here’s how it works:
Start with unsalted butter. You can make ghee with as much butter as you like. I am using a pound. Place the butter in a sauce pan and turn the heat to medium-high.
The butter will melt and start to bubble as the water begins to boil off. Turn the heat down to medium and let it continue to bubble. A white foam will form on the top.
You will notice the color of the ghee will begin to turn from a golden yellow to a darker yellow. You will also notice the milk solids (they look like flecks) settling on the bottom or clinging to the sides of the pan. These milk solids will turn from white to dark brown as they toast. After about 15 minutes, the foam on top will subside, the bubbling will slow, the color of the ghee will be dark yellow, and all the milk solids will be dark brown.
At this point, turn off the heat. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and let the ghee rest for a minute to allow the milk solids to completely settle out. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar with a tightfitting lid. Straining the ghee will catch all of the toasted milk solids. Screw the lid on right away to trap the heat inside; this is the traditional method and it creates a more desired texture. Right now the ghee will be a hot liquid (to me it looks like a nice dark beer), but after about 4-6 hours, it will cool to an opaque, semi-solid consistency.
Ghee can be stored indefinitely at room temperature, as long as you don’t expose it to too much light or heat, and if you’re mindful about scooping out the ghee from the jar with a clean spoon.
So now you have a jar of ghee, what are you going to do with it? Here is the good news. Since ghee is pure fat, it won’t burn. The milk solids in butter are what burns, and those and been removed. Therefore, ghee can not only be used as a garnish, but in high-heat cooking applications, too! Here are some ideas:
- Use it for sauteing, stir frying, pan frying, or searing meat, poultry or fish
- Spread it on breads, flat breads or tortillas
- Warm it up and drizzle it over popcorn
- Brush it on when working with phyllo dough
- Use it instead of butter when scrambling eggs, making omelets or when making French toast
- Dress up simple steamed vegetables
- Stir it into rice or toss with noodles
- Melt a dollop on top of pureed soups or braised dishes
- Spoon it directly into your mouth
You’ll always find a jar of ghee in my kitchen. Ghee’s versatility and long shelf life make it convenient to keep around. And nothing can quite describe the comforting flavor and aroma of this beautiful ingredient. It’s buttery, it’s warm, it’s toasty, it’s ghee.