It seems that every day I hear more and more folks expounding on the benefits of ghee in their diet. As health trends like the Keto diet or Paleo have become popular, more and more folks are becoming introduced to this incredible cooking fat. What was once a hard to find ingredient, often easier to make than buy, has now become a grocery store staple. Though the Lidl I frequent definitely carries some more exotic products than many grocery chains, I’ve seen ghee in almost every major grocery store as of late, and for good reason. Ghee is simply delicious. A friend who grew up eating ghee regularly described it as “the cheese of butter”. Ghee has an incredible depth of flavor that most cooking oils don’t offer.
Ghee at the most basic level is clarified animal fat. The most common fats used for ghee are butter from cow or buffalo milk. There are certainly vegetable options, Al Ghazal Vegetable Ghee is a favorite of mine, but for the purpose of this post, we are talking about animal-based ghee. When you clarify an animal fat like butter, you remove the water, and whatever milk solids remain These solids are sugars, that when heated to a certain point will brown and then burn. By removing the water and the sugars, you create a fat that can reach a much higher temperature without burning or smoking. Unlike traditionally clarified butter, ghee is then simmered at a low temperature giving it a nutty/savory quality.
For the most part, I employ ghee as a medium for searing or roasting ingredients. It works great in situations that allow for a strong, savory flavor to your cooking oil. Obviously, considering its origin, it works really well in Indian, South Asian or Middle Eastern recipes. In general, it can be substituted in place of almost any cooking oil or butter usage in a given recipe. Frying an egg? Use ghee, it adds a savory, almost umami quality that’s addictive. Sautéing vegetables? Use ghee in place of oil, it gets hotter and allows you to really caramelize those veggies. Pan roasting a steak? Sear your steak with ghee and then add more to baste it with herbs and garlic until it’s done. Rest that sucker and enjoy a depth of flavor you’ve never had in a steak before. Realistically, the only place I might worry about using ghee would be for frying, it would be way too expensive. For comparison, imagine frying chicken in a pot filled with butter, it would be delicious, but also extraordinarily wasteful.
Normally, I avoid using ghee in baked goods, I have, however, found three things that ghee works perfectly for in the world of baking. Ghee makes great biscuits, pie dough, and cornbread. As an ingredient for baked items, ghee works well in doughs that require butter to be cut into flour, like pie dough or biscuits, it also adds a savory quality to quick-breads that include melted butter or oil.
Finally, one of the most interesting ways I’ve found to use ghee is in my Sea Salt Magic Shell recipe. Usually, magic shell recipes use coconut oil to allow the chocolate syrup to harden instantly when poured over ice cream. Coconut oil is a saturated fat that has an average melting point of 76°F, below that temperature it hardens rapidly. Ghee is a saturated fat with a similar melting point, it has a deep buttery flavor and along with the sea salt creates an ice cream topping that dances between sweet and savory in a really fun way.
Follow the Recipe below and find out for yourself how cool Ghee Magic Shell can be!