Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Ghee. Tasty, golden, buttery, nutty ghee.

Sometime last summer, I was taken with the inexplicable urge to cook up a mess of Doro Wat, a fiery Ethiopian chicken stew. (Anything that has onions, chicken, and plenty of red-hot pepper is likely to appeal to me, so perhaps that urge was not quite as inexplicable as it seemed at first blush.)

The recipe came from a site called Nom Nom Paleo, which I had found as a link on my Farcebook feed. While I do not necessarily subscribe to the Paleo eating philosophy, I do know tasty when I see it. The Doro Wat was just that.

To make Doro Wat, the first thing you do is caramelize a bunch of hacked up red onions... and the preferred fat for this job is ghee, which has a high smoking point and which contributes a unique nutty flavor.

With its slightly scary-sounding Indian name, ghee may seem exotic... but it really isn’t. It’s nothing more or less than clarified butter, the same stuff one uses for dipping chunks of lobster. It’s easy enough to make... and waaaay less costly than the prepackaged version you’ll find at the local Whole Paycheck Foods. All you do is melt a pile of unsalted sweet cream butter (the highest quality you can get) in a saucepan over medium-low heat, let it come to a bubbly simmer, and skim off the foamy goop that rises to the surface. After about 10-15 minutes or so, the bubbles get smaller and subside as the moisture in the butter cooks off while the remaining milk solids drop to the bottom of the pan and begin to turn brown. Don’t wait until they burn - that’s the time to take the melted butter off the heat and strain out those browned solids. You should have a nice, clear, golden liquid. Pour it into a Mason jar and screw on the lid.

You can store ghee at room temperature, but if that makes you nervous, stick it in the fridge. (That’s where I keep it, mainly so I don’t clutter the kitchen counters unnecessarily.)

I made a quart-size batch last August - eight months ago to the day! - and only now has my supply run low. So this afternoon I made enough to replenish my inventory.

Damn, this stuff is delicious. I still like to use a squirt of olive oil for cooking my eggs, but a little bit of ghee gives them a wonderful buttery, nutty flavor. It’s a perfect “something extra” added to sautéed or steamed vegetables. I’ll bet you could use it to doctor up a passel of saltines, too. Golly ghee, whatever did we do without it?


Erin O'Brien said...

Ok. I'm officially intrigued. Up to my armpits in an assignment for now, but maybe I'll zip up a batch when the dust settles.

Elisson said...

Oh, by all means, do. You won't regret it... and just in case a steamed or broiled lobster shows its ass up at your doorstep, you'll be able to deal.

Seriously... scramble a few eggs in this stuff and you will think you've been transmogrified into a Heavenly Being.

El Capitan said...

Now, an enterprising young hippie would know that once the milk solids were drained out, you put the pan back on the stove on a barely flickering flame, and then stir in about three fingers worth of finely minced green herbs. Let that simmer for a bit, then restrain through a cheesecloth to get most of the vegetation removed.

Behold! The Sacred Ghee! Good for making magic brownies, cosmic cookies, and even just spread on toast for a nice smoke-free wake & bake.

In theory, of course...