So I figured it was about time to cover another Cooking Basic.
Yes. I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath. Incidentally I just typed “bated bread”. My brain is always on food.
Today’s lesson is: How to Clarify Butter.
What’s the point of clarifying butter, you ask? Good question.
Butter is really an emulsification of butter fat, milk solids and water. Because of all the “other stuff” mixed with the butter fat, butter has a much lower smoking point than, say, oils which are typically used for frying and sauteeing. So for example, say you want to grill some tasty, puffy naan on your grill pan and you use regular old butter to grease the grill. After the first or second piece of bread, your house may or may not fill with smoke because the butter is burning.
Not that I speak from experience or anything. Because I would never do something like that. Or anything. Ahem.
Clarified butter can also be kept for much longer without spoiling. Technically you can store it as you would any other oil, in a pantry or cabinet, but unless you’re 100% certain that you’ve gotten every last bit of ick out of the finished product it’s probably best to keep it refrigerated.
Keep in mind, too, that if you’re going to do this you’ll end up with 3/4 of the original product. So if you use a pound, let’s say, you’ll end up with 1 1/2 cups (or the equivalent of 3 sticks of butter).
So let’s begin!
Cut your butter into pieces – this will help it melt more quickly.
Melt slowly, over lowish heat – no rushing this!
Once butter is melted and starting to bubble, you can begin skimming off the white stuff that settles on top.
Then, once you’re fairly certain you’ve skimmed all you can skim, there are two methods you can use to separate the butter from the milk solids. One is to layer a sieve with layers of cheesecloth and strain through. The other is to slowly pour the butter fat into a separate container, leaving the solids in the bottom of the pan. I went with the latter of the two methods.
You can always repour from one bowl to another if you feel that you’ve left any solids in the butter. Eventually you’ll wind up with this:
Beautiful, clear, yellow butter.
And that’s all there is to it! Easy peasy.
Like I said, this is excellent for use in sauteeing and pan frying. It can be cooked longer and at a higher temperature without burning and smoking. Burning and smoking does not equal a good time. Trust me.
Oh, and then there’s my favorite use: Dipping lobster. Of course it’s rare (more like never) that I prepare lobster. But when the day comes when I’m steaming my own? I’ll have lots of clarified butter to slosh it around in!
As always, if there’s any tips or techniques you would like to see demonstrated here, let me know! I think next time I’ll go with…a vlog!
Gasp! I know!