Chicken and Ghee

I got a new recipe from a patient of mine this week. Well, it’s not really a recipe, per se – but more of a ‘technique’, I guess you could say. It’s called “Ghee” – some refer to it as clarified butter. It takes a while to make – with some considerable effort. But I have to say the outcome is fabulous!

It sells in the health food stores for about $25.00 for a 4-6 ounce jar. You can make it much cheaper at home – if you have an hour or two to spare in order to get it done.

Ghee, as it is known in Indian and Ayurvedic cuisine, is the preferred oil for any recipes that require sautéing in any form. Vegetable oils are highly refined at their worst and even at their unrefined best become rancid very quickly. Thee does not be come rancid as easily due to its saturated fat content and is much more stable when used for sautéing. It needs no refrigeration. The removal of the milk solids, which are present in the butter, allow it to be heated without burning.

In India, ghee is a very sacred food. In Northern India, it is the most highly regarded of all cooking media. It is said that ghee has the power to retard deterioration of food and to magnify the nutritional value of its constituents. By heating the butter until the water-soluble part is removed, most of the perishable constituents of the butter are removed and the ghee that is poured off can be kept for long periods of time. Undergoing little deterioration. It will not scorch or turn black when heated because the water-soluble milk solids, the culprits that turn black when butter is heated, are removed.

According to Indian tradition, ghee, when fried with spices, takes on the properties of those spices, diffusing them through the food. The combination of ghee and spice may be used as a seasoning agent for food or as a medicinal preparation. Because of the properties ascribed to it, ghee is often used in traditional medicines. Ghee is also used in sacred rites and is offered to the gods by pouring it over fire.

MAKING GHEE

Heat one pound of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan. You can start it on medium heat, then after it melts lower the flame.

As it cooks the milk solids will foam to the top and condense somewhat. The water content of the butter will evaporate as it cooks. When it evaporates the milk solids will settle to the bottom and start to brown. The crust of foam at the top may be skimmed off or left to settle.

The ghee is ready when it is a clear golden color and a light brown crust of milk solids can be seen at the bottom of the pan. The odor is of carmel.

Remove from heat as soon as the solids in the bottom of the pan turn tan. Because of the heat – the ghee still cooks, so don’t let it scorch, as that would affect the flavor.

Allow to cool and then strain into a glass or stainless steel storage container.

The ghee skimmings can be saved and mixed into vegetables, soup or breads.

Awesome stuff. I made some. I used one pound of salted butter and one pound of unsalted and it yeilded about 2 6 ounce jars of Ghee. I used it to make a nice chicken stir fry (with garlic and curry, YUM!) and I used it tonight when I made fried chicken for dinner.

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