How to Make Clarified Butter and When to Use It

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clarified butter or ghee

There’s a time and place for using regular butter and then there are those recipes that call for the flavor and magic that butter has to offer but with a bolder twist. That’s when clarified butter comes into play. It’s regular butter that has been rendered through heating to remove the proteins and water contained in butter, leaving nothing behind but velvety, golden milk fat.

Clarified butter is heavier and richer than regular butter and it also has a higher smoke point at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it doesn’t burn as easily as regular butter. It’s ideal for cooking methods that require sautéeing or frying at high heat over a long period of time. The result is an intricate flavor that evokes butter with a more confident personality.

Clarified butter is not as conducive for baking since its flavor is earthier and more robust, easily overtaking the delicate nature of breads and pastries. It’s perfect for countless ingredients including beef, vegetables, seafood, pork, chicken, and tofu.

In Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine, the product ghee is clarified butter with a flourish. It’s clarified butter that has been cooked for a longer period of time, resulting in a nutty flavor and a deep golden color.

Here’s how to make clarified butter for your next cooking session:

  1. Melt two cups of regular, unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Continue cooking at the same temperature until a layer of milk proteins and water separate out from the butterfat and rise, creating a white cap on the surface.
  3. Turn the heat up to high and bring the butter to a boil until the white cap becomes frothy.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until the cap at the surface begins to decompose.
  5. Continue to gently simmer until the pieces on the surface sink to the bottom of the pot and the bubbles cease in the simmering process.
  6. Once the milk proteins have completely sunk to the bottom of the pot and the simmering process stops, remove the pot from the heat.
  7. Gently pour through a cheesecloth or coffee filter-lined colander into a heatproof container to separate the clarified butter from the milk proteins.
  8. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate. Clarified butter will keep refrigerated for up to six months.

Lemon Butter Halibut with Zucchini Noodles

lemon butter hailbut with zucchini noodles or zoodles

The Organic Kitchen

This recipe showcases the healthful virtues of clarified butter by combining it with halibut atop a bed of fun and nutritious zucchini noodles. Lemon, chives, and garlic round out the flavor profile. The result is a complex but no-fuss recipe that’s as fresh as it is nuanced. Get the recipe.

Grilled Dry-Aged Steak

grilled dry aged steak with clarified butter

Kitchen Konfidence

Steak is the perfect companion for clarified butter’s charms. In this recipe, the steak is marinated in a bath of golden clarified butter, rosemary, garlic, and thyme before it’s grilled. The result is audacious flavor that invites a welcome sliver of summertime into a chilly winter afternoon. Get the recipe.

Matar Tofu

Indian matar tofu

Kristen Hartke

This recipe illustrates how clarified butter and tofu are the ideal dancing partners. The Indian flavor profile is the perfect counterpart for either ghee or clarified butter because of its deep, nuanced flavor. This is a dish to bust out at a dinner party or on a cold winter’s day when there’s nothing better than a spicy recipe to counter the chill in the air. Get the recipe.

Sweet Potatoes Pommes Anna

sweet potato pommes anna

Betsy Life

Layer upon layer of sweet potatoes interspersed with Idaho potatoes and plenty of clarified butter culminate in a deeply satisfying recipe that’s as simple and inexpensive as it is flavorful and enriching. The sweet potatoes are a fun twist on a traditional French recipe that is as beloved in this nation almost as much as butter. Get the recipe.

Nashville Hot Sauce

Nashville hot sauce for Nashville hot chicken

Savory Experiments

Meat, seafood, and vegetables shouldn’t have all the fun when it comes to clarified butter. This recipe proves that hot sauce also finds its voice when clarified butter is swirled into it. The result is a mellower kind of kick that doesn’t skimp on the nuance or the flavor. Slather it over your next chicken before grilling it or drizzle it over a burger before diving in. Get the recipe.

Spatchcocked Roasted Chicken

crisp skinned roast chicken roasted in duck fat and clarified butter

Kitchenista Diaries

Duck fat and clarified butter combine robust forces to coax this spatchcocked chicken recipe into caramelized perfection. Juicy on the inside, crispy on the inside, this is the dish to prepare for your next wintertime gathering when nothing but an irresistible recipe will do. Get the recipe.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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